Alan Keyes
Ravi Zacharias, the question is about good, not evil
By Alan Keyes
December 1, 2015

This week, a WND news story by Leo Hohmann drew my attention to an op-ed in which Dr. Ravi Zacharias reflected on the moral significance of the Islamic State terrorists' attacks against unarmed civilians in Paris. In it, Zacharias dwelt at length upon the conspiracy of deceit and fear he contends is keeping the world even from discussing the true nature of those who perpetrated the attacks:

The West is being taken down in small portions till one day the lie of the murderers being protected by smooth- talking power brokers with a bodyguard of lies will be seen for the terrifying belief that it is. No contrary view will be allowed then. For now, the layers of distortion cover the graves of the murdered. The whole world has become a courtroom where clever lawyers make truth unattainable. Whether it be 9/11 or the carnage at the Boston Marathon or blown-up planes or Paris, we will not find answers because to ask the question is either to receive a lie from some politicians or many in the media, or to invoke the wrath of hate-filled killers.

Later in his article, Dr. Zacharias refers to "a question that was as pointed as could be," which a young Muslim puts to an Islamic cleric. "The question laid bare a reality that was deemed blasphemous. The next day, that man and his family were murdered, just for asking a fact-laden question." I was intrigued by the fact that Dr. Zacharias pointedly avoided stating the question explicitly, an instance perhaps of the unwillingness he writes of "to invoke the wrath of hate-filled killers."

But I also found myself wondering whether, if given a chance to respond, those accused of acting from motives of hatred would simply accept the characterization. Wouldn't they respond that they acted out of loving reverence for Allah and his Prophet? In this respect, Dr. Zacharias' exposition of the deceit that veils the true character and motives of the ISIS terrorists gives rise itself to a question. It has to do with the motives and character of the deceivers, especially the Western politicians who proclaim their resolve to lead or support courageous action to uproot and destroy those Dr. Zacharias identifies with the "21st century murderous man."

Because he ends his article by evoking the specter of evil in the hearts of those who are the actual or potential victims of the ISIS terrorists, Dr. Zacharias is obviously not oblivious to the moral dilemma posed when people respond to violence with violence. He declares that he himself would "be remiss if I left the guilt and darkness out there. That is the seduction of fake righteousness. We all have to look at our own hearts and see the evil that is within each one of us. Only then can we find the answer from which all other answers flow."

But at times, isn't what appears to be moral humility actually a tacit assertion of moral equivalence? Is there no way for us to gauge evil except by comparison with evil? Dr. Zacharias decries the deceit involved in refusing to answer pointed questions about what accounts for the evil the terrorists do. But doesn't he himself refuse to address the question, even more to the point, about the standard of good that shows up their evil for what it is? Somewhat confusedly, he quotes James Stewart, a 20th century minister of the Church of Scotland, asserting that Christ "did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil, He conquered through it." But what of the Apostle Paul, who wrote, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21)? Did St. Paul misunderstand Christ's conquering power?

The fervent belief that "there is no God but Allah" and that the sayings and example of the Prophet Muhammad perfectly convey Allah's will is what drives the ISIS terrorists to commit murder and mayhem, as it has driven the forces of Islamic imperialism to do for centuries. Also for centuries, nations professing the Christian religion have taken arms against those Islamic forces, even carrying the battle to the enemy in the Crusades now generally condemned by smug elitists in the West.

We could say of the war against Islamic State terrorists something similar to what Lincoln said of the American civil war. On both sides in the conflict, people claim that there is but one God. On both sides people invoke divine authority to justify their resort to war. Unless both are wrong in their fundamental premises, both cannot be right in their claim of righteousness. It is one thing for the secular scientistic materialists to succumb to the convenient abdication of moral judgment involved in pretending that equivalent evil informs the hearts of both the terrorists and the people they terrorize. Most secularists openly disavow the existence of any permanent, transcendent standard of good and evil in light of which to judge the effects of power.

But not a few of the terrorists' actual or potential victims profess to be followers of Christ. They profess to revere his commandments of love, which make any use of violence into a moral dilemma, even when deployed in defense of the innocent. When the terrorists who cite the words and example of the Prophet of Islam meet the victims who believe in the words and example of Christ – one who did not think it robbery to be God's equal, but nonetheless, though innocent, accepted death upon the cross – it is the butchers who seem shamelessly emboldened, and the victims who fall prey to the temptation to mistake their own timidity, resulting from their shameful consciousness of sin, for evidence of their conformity to the example of the sinless one whose obedience to God released the grace to free them from its bonds.

Tragically for the United States, with respect to political life – including of course international affairs – God-rejecting materialism prevails among the elitist faction that is presently in the drivers' seat. A pretense of humanitarian compassion masks the abandonment of respect for the Christian understanding wherein God's responsibility for the intrinsic meaning and worth of every human life is the standard of right, not human whim or power. The elitist pretense of living beyond good and evil prevents evil from being recognized as such. It frees evil impulses and practices from the critical constraints of God-acknowledging conscience, so that any and every sufficiently strong and willful passion pridefully asserts its "rights," no matter how wrong it is for the common good of all.

It's not surprising that minds misshapen by a culture in which vampires, demons, and other legends of evil are rendered as sympathetic heroes and heroines in popular entertainment lack the will to refuse all sympathy to the real-world purveyors of horror, in Allah's name, or any other. This is not only a function of the evil intrinsic to fallen human nature. It reflects above all the radical turn away from the real premise of goodness, which has everything to do with the benevolent will with which God formed and still informs the whole of His creation – and nothing at all to do with the evil that men do, however much they vainly claim that the command or blessing of God is the cause of their foul wickedness.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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