If Only Someone Would Persecute Us

Stay the Course, Persecution or Not

It is said and written that suffering persecution is a Christian’s lot in life. That may be, but these days there is typically a discernible political motive behind this assertion, namely, that Christians should accept losing political battles to people with liberal or left-wing views. 

Accepting deteriorating neighborhoods, perverted school systems, and manifest insanity is not the same thing as standing up for your convictions and getting persecuted by fanatical Romans.

If we are honest with ourselves, those in danger of actual persecution are those Christians the government and media call “Christian Nationalists.” Which is to say, the Christians in danger of persecution include anyone who is actually a Christian nationalist, anyone who just thinks traditional morals are better than progressive morals, anyone who doesn’t think all religions are equal, and then, of course, every genuinely evil violent person the media can muster who isn’t already a member of Antifa. 

While I am relatively certain no actual persecution will be meted out—I mean, no Roman-style violence—I am equally certain that the only way a Christian will ever get himself persecuted, really persecuted, is by declaring that he does not deserve any persecution. To get persecuted, a Christian will have to assert that he is a son of God and has the truth on his side, and that the people in power are estranged from God and do not deserve to have any influence over the minds of others.

No Persecution Today

As things stand, no violent persecution will be forthcoming. Why? Because no one in power needs to take Christians as seriously as the Romans did. Are the people in our government and media more foolish than the Romans? No. Rather, the Christians of today are not poised to overthrow the entire secular world as the Christians of Rome were poised to overthrow the entire pagan world. The rulers of today do not persecute Christians because they do not need to persecute Christians. 

That Christians are not being persecuted today is not a good sign. When it seems like every facet of government and “high” society are anti-Christian, the worst that happens to Christians is that they are “marginalized” or “discriminated against”—i.e., the people in power do not like Christians but do not feel threatened by them. 

While it is true that Trump sends the cultural communists into hysterics and that Trump must rely on the Christian vote, nobody thinks Trump is a specifically “Christian” answer to the anti-Western, anti-White, anti-Christian coalition running our country. There is no Christian man or movement that has the sort of scary power that Trump and MAGA have.

When An Idea Cannot Be Beaten

Persecution can and does work. I mean: sometimes persecution works and sometimes it doesn’t. The prevailing view today is that it never works and always backfires.

Persecution backfired against the early Christians because they were in possession of the truth and were offering a way out of stifling Roman rule. They were doing real work.

Persecution of Christians has not always backfired because the circumstances are not always the same. It’s historically illiterate to assert that Christianity is always and everywhere profiting from persecution. If this were so, Christians would be duty bound to ignore and maybe even give aid to the miserable little tyrants all around the world that persecute good ideas and the true religion.

Christianity has been irresistible and benefited from persecution, no doubt. Christianity today, however, does not represent such a movement. That’s not to say it cannot become so, but it is best to admit the truth of the matter if we’re to change it. And it is not Christianity’s fault that this is the condition of things. When Christians become conquerable, when they talk incessantly about being persecuted but cannot find anyone even willing to persecute them, Christians have lost possession of the truth; the truth is always dangerous to lies. If ever a large number of people have the truth, they will be attacked by those who do not have it. 

I am not saying there are no more genuine Christians in America. The point is that Christians, as a group, would be seen as a genuine threat if they genuinely bore the truth on the altars of their hearts. That no one in power can be brought to treat them that seriously is evidence that today’s Christians are not bringing the truth to bear on the essential issues, or do not possess the truth at all. “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision” (1st Samuel 3:1). 

Holding onto a conviction is important but it doesn’t make Christians dangerous. Consider the cultural questions being fought over today. It is one thing to hold to one’s convictions and so live according to traditional morality. It is another thing to make traditional morality dangerous by explaining truth and attacking error.

Oftentimes, today’s Roman rulers can rest assured that Christians collaborating with the regime will silence genuine dissent long before the rulers have to take notice.

Persecution is Only A Sign

Those who are good will always be attacked or persecuted by the bad. Not everyone who gets persecuted is thereby good. Life would be much simpler if only the good were persecuted. Unfortunately, there are many examples of groups of people getting persecuted for depressingly flippant reasons. I believe governments, from time to time, persecute minorities merely because the news cycle needs a scapegoat.

Nor is all coercion persecution. Sometimes bad things are outlawed for good reasons. What do we think of the polygamist variety of Mormonism? And there are other religious pretenses our law doesn’t respect. If a state government outlaws intoxicating drugs, some drug-using “religion” might claim they are being persecuted, but sensible people would not heed their complaint. Any illicit activity can be made into a “religious observance”; that’s meaningless. 

Since persecution is meted out to both the bad and the good, we must admit that even if some Christians did manage to get themselves persecuted today, it would only be a sign that, well, maybe they were the good guys posing a genuine threat to the reigning errors of today. But it could also be completely and frustratingly meaningless persecution, persecution for the sake of persecution.

Since persecution is not a sure sign of goodness, it’s madness to desire it as a sign of goodness. Reasonable men and women will not think Christians who get themselves persecuted are thereby the good guys. 

Don’t Have a Persecution Fetish

Christians are told they will be persecuted for the truth—the point being they should adhere to the Christian way of life and uphold the truths of the faith, no matter what. Christians should not seek out persecution. Standing up under persecution is a badge of honor. Getting persecuted isn’t. What are Christians to think about their persecuted children, friends, and community? While Christians will be persecuted for the truth, it is the responsibility of husbands and leaders to do something about this.

There seem to be people today, many Christians included, who do not believe they can be authentic if they are not in some way oppressed. The image of a well-dressed congregation singing hymns genuinely strikes many of my contemporaries as aesthetically un-Christian. Does being a good person require poverty and persecution? To think so is to trade truth for an aesthetic pose. 

There are many who are afraid of what will happen if the good guys aren’t powerless.

Fighting For Christians and Christianity is not Un-Christian

When conservative Christians are told they should not wish for a more friendly government, they are usually denied a straightforward debate. Conservatives want to debate the core issues. Their left wing compatriots want to avoid the debate.

For example, Christians will say the LGBTQ+ way of living and propaganda are sinful, misguided, un-Christian, and so on. What can a leftist-Christian say to this? The conservative is obviously right. What can be done is deflection: instead of debating the issue, the liberal will debate the prudence of debating the point at all. As I mentioned earlier, liberals sometimes resort to saying that Christians must let the government do what it wants because Christians should expect to be persecuted: 

If Christians are not hired because of their morals? “Accept persecution.” If young Christians are denied admission because they are white? “Accept persecution.” If the government demands your institution support left wing causes? “Accept persecution.”

Basically, if there is any desire to fight against being relegated to second class citizenship, Christians are told to accept persecution.

Conservative Christians want to continue fighting for the Christian faith and Christian morality, and there are liberal or leftist Christians who, knowing they can’t really say traditional morality isn’t Christian, prefer to avoid having that debate. Liberals say that Christians need to stop promoting Christianity because doing so can lead to abuses, might turn other people off, might endanger unity in the church. They also say, as I’ve discussed here, that Christians shouldn’t promote Christianity because the thing Christians should do is get persecuted. 

Here is the liberal-Christian’s strategy: “You don’t spread your faith by telling other people they need the faith, or that other religions or ideals are not true; you spread the faith by getting told you’re wrong by bullies and psychotic tyrants. It’s when a tyrant is after you that you get the real sympathy points with tenderhearted souls and reasonable minds.” But why would a tyrant ever come after people who acquiesce in his will? The only way to get persecuted is to tell the tyrant he doesn’t deserve the authority he has.

A Neutered Gospel

The good news of the gospel includes a rejection of the popular culture and other ideals. Consider the case of a man who suffered persecution for the Gospel:

“Some tell me ‘Preach the pure gospel!’ This reminds me that the Communist secret police also told me to preach Christ, but not to mention communism. … 

I don’t know what this so-called pure gospel is. Was the preaching of John the Baptist pure? He did not say only ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ (Matthew 3:2). He also ‘rebuked [Herod] … for all the evils which Herod had done’ (Luke 3:19). He was beheaded because he didn’t confine himself to abstract teaching. Jesus did not preach only the ‘pure’ Sermon on the Mount, but also what some actual church leaders would have called a negative sermon: ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! … Serpents, brood of vipers! (Matthew 23:27, 33). It is for such ‘impure’ preaching that He was crucified. The Pharisees would not have bothered about the Sermon on the Mount.

Sin must be called by name. Communism is one of the most dangerous sins in the world today. Every gospel that does not denounce it is not the pure gospel.” – Richard Wurmbrand in 1967.

Christians have a work: spreading the Gospel. They cannot do this without including denunciations against pharisaism, hypocrisy, and other biblical evils. The good news of Christ has to be made clear. If people hear that “Jesus saves,” but have no idea that means they are free from moral errors of the age, then the good news is not good news at all. They are still trapped. A Christian cannot believe he is saved and a child of God and at the same time beholden to the opinions and dictates of a Human Resources ogre. The Gospel frees Christians from fake worldly concerns. If a Christian speaks the truth in love and is rejected, the Christian shakes of his feet and moves on. The good news will always, or at least almost always, involve a denunciation and mockery of whatever prevails in the popular mind. Otherwise, the popular mind prevails. Christians should not set limits to their thoughts based on popular ideologies contrary to the freedom of the Gospel. The freedom of the Christian is what leads to the persecution of the Christian.

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