What Were the Spiritual Lessons of 9/11? Religious Leaders Explain

Religious leaders have offered comments to explain what spiritual lessons can be taken from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011 in New York City.

Pastor Rick Warren offered three lessons to be taken from 9/11 during his sermon on Sunday. The first is that life is a gift that is fragile and brief.

“Whatever you are going to do with your life, you had better get it done,” said Warren.

The second lesson Warren mentioned is one of community; that everyone needs community.

In the third lesson he highlighted that everybody has a spiritual hole in their heart that only God can fill. He highlights that people should never forget Him when times are good, and that they do not need to fear.

“The Bible, never says ‘Grieve not;’ it says, ‘Fear not,’” said the Saddleback Church pastor, who believes that the event also helped people to come back to God.

“God loves each one of us as if there were one of us; He has never made a person he doesn’t love. Maybe you’ve wandered off from Him. The 9/11 anniversary would be a good time to come home,” he said.

Meanwhile T.D. Jakes, expresses that there is more that unites than separates the people of God: “Let us not continue to self-inflict wounds on our hard earned American esprit de corps by clinging to the very sobriquets that segregate us.”

“It is my sincere prayer that we never forget what we lost that September morning, and that we always remember what we also gained on that dark and terrible day.”

Jakes urges the nation to internalize the lessons of 9/11 and to “restore our nation to unity today!”

Lakewood Pastor, Joel Osteen said in interview with Sally Quinn of the Washington Post on September 11 that when people ask him why God let this happen he answers: “We don’t understand everything that happens. Faith is about trusting God when you have unanswered questions. It doesn’t take a lot of faith if you have everything figured out.”

“God is good, God is for us, and that even in the difficult times God gives us the strength to make it through,” he contended.

Osteen was at his house getting prepared to work on his message for Sunday service when the attacks took place.

“My first reaction was shock and disbelief that somebody would do something like that. It seemed surreal,” said Osteen.

The impact of the tragic event for Osteen was that it “drew us closer together” and “turned people to their faith.”

This kind of event, according to him, helps people figure out what’s important: “It helped prioritize things for people in their lives in terms of people who were just working to make a living at all costs and not taking time for what’s really important --their family, and so on.”

“It taught me to value each day as a gift, more as people don’t know that they are going to have tomorrow.”

Perhaps people think that one of the lessons from the attack is that the Arab world did not embrace Osama bin Laden, said the Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, Feisal Abdul Rauf.

American Muslims were as loyal to the United States as any large ethnic or religious group, he claimed. The concept of the “Clash of Civilizations” has been discredited, he believes, and Muslims want the same things as Westerners: freedom of expression, a government that serves them, and economic opportunities to improve themselves.

“Muslims and the West are not intractable enemies but can find ways to work together. The battle is not between Muslims and the West but between moderates and radicals on each side. And religion - far from the enemy - can help build the peace,” declared Rauf.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights advocate, Desmond Tutu, contended that there is no religion that propagates violence: “Yet many are they who commit violent acts in the name of religion - and who falsely justify cruelty as something that is sanctioned by God.”

“We failed the biggest test posed by the 9/11 outrage: In our anger and dismay we failed to recognize our common humanity, that we are made for love and that acts such as those committed on that day are an aberration.”