Because life is a series of edits

24 and Convergence

In Church, Humanity, Thought, TV on January 16, 2007 at 10:33 am

The four-hour premier of Fox’s 24 these past two nights was quite a start to the sixth season of the show, ending with last night’s detonation of a nuclear bomb (the first of supposedly five across the nation) in Los Angeles. Megan and I became fans of the show by way of a DVD “catch up” of seasons 1 and 2 just before season 3 came out, and we’ve been looking forward to this new sixth season with great anticipation. (Oh, and I secretly have a “man-crush” on Jack Bauer, played with tragic brilliance by Kiefer Sutherland.)

I won’t go into all the minute-by-minute details of the last two nights (you can get them all – literally – here), but I will say I’m struck by both the uncomfortable reality of its vivid portrayal of terrorism, as well as its powerful illustration of Islamic discipleship in the world today.

Sure, Hollywood takes a few liberties (terrorists never looked so handsome, in a GQ kind of way), but a peek at the commitment and community of a guy who’s getting ready to blow up a bus or a bomb along with himself in the name of Allah is, well, gripping. While we in America may call such an act cowardly in terms of traditional warfare (and it is), we can’t deny the extent to which these followers are willing to live out their convictions either. It’s the difference in a plate of ham and eggs: the chicken was involved; the pig was committed.

In my Old Testament Prophets class this past weekend, Dr. Richard Pratt asked if anybody knew of the existence of a Covenant Seminary martyr list? There were a few smirks and uncomfortable glances, but somehow that was one document that hadn’t shown up in the promotional materials.

Dr. Pratt was dead serious about the question, however, going on to make the point that, in a world in which more Christians are being martyred for their faith than at any other time in history (first century included), how is it that very few of us in the PCA or the larger American evangelical church know any one who has been martyred for his or her faith?

Fewer smirks; more uncomfortable glances. Come on, Pratt…just teach the Bible.


Tertullian wrote that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” And, while I suppose it’s a morbid convergence of my January-term class schedule and my recent television habits, you don’t have to be Jack Bauer to figure out the connection between the persecution of the Kingdom and the accompanying growth of it, both historically as well as present day.

Which kingdom am I really committed to build? God’s? America’s? Mine? Perhaps more telling: how far am I willing – really willing – to go to build it? How far have I gone so far? How willing is Megan? Our family? This, I suppose, is the hard one for me. When I was single, I really did have more of the martyr mentality than I do now. Obviously, being a husband and father changes you, but, as Dr. Pratt challenged us, our grandfathers went to fight in World War II because of their love for our parents, not in spite of it.

Dr. Pratt’s point: “They died for who they loved. Don’t tell me your kids growing up – knowing you died for who you loved (Christ) – won’t shape them more than being home to play catch.”


It’s not that God is asking us to take up arms against Muslims (or anyone else); his is not the call to a 21-century version of The Crusades (one of the worst human ideas in the name of the Church, bar none). But we are called to give our lives for the sake of the One who gave his life for us – not to blow people up, but to risk reaching those who would us.

In many regards, Jack Bauer’s job is easier than mine: he can kill anyone who attacks him and his citizenship; I’m to love my attacker and give my life for mine.

Talk about your differing war strategies…

  1. A great piece of information to have.

  2. Just finished Khaled Hosseini‘s moving portrait of modern Afghanistan called The Kite Runner, as well as Newsweek’s lead piece titled “The Next Jihadists,” about how American occupation will most likely push Iraq’s children to more terrorism (duh).

    You will cry.

  3. Yeah, I was in that class, and I am an avid 24 fan. I have to be honest, I prefer Jack Bauer’s Strategy I really do.

    I realize that implicates some weakness of my faith. But it doesn’t hurt that I too have that “man crush” you spoke of…

    Oh well.. maybe this will be the last season and I can go on with my life.

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