Theology Prof. Urges Christians to Consider Underlying Conflict Behind Sri Lanka Bombings as Death Toll Rises to 359

A mass funeral April 24 in Sri Lanka mourned some of the at least 359 people killed in Easter attacks against Christians. Screen capture from NBC News

As Sri Lanka continues to mourn at least 359 people who died in Easter attacks against Christians, a Southern Baptist seminary professor has called believers to consider the “conflict of ideas” behind the bombings.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the April 21 suicide bombings, according to media reports, and Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 60 people in relation to the attacks.

“Though the media doesn’t want to talk about the conflict of ideas that is back behind all this, I think we need to talk about it,” said Mike Edens, distinguished professor of theology and missions at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

A suspected leader of the coordinated suicide bombings at churches and hotels appears in a video that has surfaced, along with seven of his followers, swearing allegiance to the Islamic State, The Washington Post reported. The Islamic State also has issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attacks, which injured 500 people in addition to the slain.

Sri Lankan officials have attributed the bombings to a local Islamist group, the National Thowheed Jamaath, according to media reports. The government said it is seeking to determine whether the perpetrators had ties to the Islamic State.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Easter bombings may have come in retaliation for attacks last month in which an avowed white supremacist killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand, The Post reported.

Edens, who has ministered widely among Muslims abroad, said, “We need to be horrified and very strident in our opposition to the perpetrators of both” the Sri Lanka and New Zealand massacres. “Both of them, in seeking to suppress a religious expression, are destroying the image of God in the innocent individuals … in the mosques and in the churches.”

Focusing on the Sri Lanka attackers, Edens said “a group of people have been benighted by a false religion and are convinced that their job is to inhibit access … to the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

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Source: Baptist Press