Craig – I largely agree with you, though I have encountered individuals within Christianity who would interpret texts this way. I think it is also important for us, as Christians to think about and explicitly express our hermeneutic. This leads also to a question of consistency, and my concern here is internal to Christianity. Can my hermeneutic be transported to another passage and remain valid?
I also don’t think we need to be naive about radical Islam. I don’t have all the numbers, but the number of radicals is too high, and we don’t need to be blind to the threat. On the other hand, one way of being naive about the threat is to misidentify its range one way or the other.
I’d be interested in hearing how you read Numbers 31. I am not fully persuaded that I read it correctly … 🙂