By Brian Knowles
Since the close of the historical period known as the Enlightenment, the Christian faith – and all other religions for that matter — has been under relentless intellectual attack from modernist (materialist) scholars and thinkers. In our time, the post-modernists are chiming in with the modernists in the assault on religion – especially the two Biblically based faiths, Judaism and Christianity.
The situation is worse in Europe and in Canada than it is in the United States – but America is rapidly becoming “Europeanized.” Supposedly sophisticated people see no valid reason to believe that God exists, or to believe that the Bible is his Word for mankind. To them, the latter just another religious book full of myths, superstition, unreliable and unscientific, information. Many do not believe that there is any valid proof that Jesus himself existed. So where does that leave us?
The people who think this way view Christians as intellectual bottom feeders whose mental material is mainly myth and superstition. They would see us as “rationally challenged” for believing what we believe.
At the same time, Christianity is under relentless physical attack by Communists and militant Muslims alike. Last year, these two groups were largely responsible for the deaths of some 100,000 Christians worldwide (according to some sources). In parts of Africa, the slave trade is alive and flourishing and the slaves of choice are black Christians.
Some of the more sophisticated Islamic people seem content to live peacefully in community with Christians. But in areas where militant Islamic regimes rule the roost, it’s open season on our people. Even in Israel, both sides are targeting Christian communities.
The Forces of Darkness
Ha Satan – the Adversary – is assembling an array of forces against the Body of Christ. They are intellectual, ideological and religious in nature. Their common denominator is hatred for Bible-believing Christians. Even in America, a nation that has always been predominantly Christian, the liberal Left is becoming ever more virulently anti-Christian. Especially despised are those Christians who are viewed as “right wing,” “fundamentalist,” “conservative,” or “seeking to impose their morality on the rest of us.” Christians who oppose abortion, pre-marital sex, homosexuality and lesbianism are singled out for special contempt – as are those who express love for God and country.
President-elect Bush is assured of a hard ride for the next four years because he is a committed Christian who sees no reason to apologize for his faith in Christ. You can bet the Press and Media will waste no time in unsheathing their long knives for use against this man. Like Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle, and Gerald Ford before him, he is sure to be portrayed as a bumbler and an “amiable dunce.” Every gaff, stumble or slip of the tongue will be preyed upon. Editorial cartoonists will portray the President as having big jug ears, spacy eyes close set topped by bushy eyebrows. Jay Leno and David Letterman will continue to make jokes in which the President is characterized as having the IQ of a carrot. Count on it. The Press and Media will also scour the minutia of the President’s life for any trace of hypocrisy.
George W. Bush, simply by declaring that Jesus Christ has been the greatest philosophical influence in his life, has become both a target and a representative Christian. He will be relentlessly and mercilessly scrutinized for any and every flaw. By extension, so will the rest of us.
Throughout this Administration, more than at any other time in our recent history, we will need to support this President with constant prayers. His enemies in Washington will outnumber his friends by a significant margin. They will seek to sabotage his Presidency to the extent that he will have no hope of winning a second term in office.
By striking at the President, the forces of darkness will be hitting the Church as a whole. Any shot at Bush will be a shot at Christians around the country.
We can also anticipate attacks on certain members of the Bush cabinet. Bush’s nominee for Attorney General – Janet Reno’s replacement – was described in this morning’s LA Times as a “gospel-singing, teetotaling, piano-playing son of a Pentecostal minister…” The Times article also said that “To many civil rights and abortion advocates, he is now Public Enemy No. 1.” With labels like that hung on him, you can bet that the Attorney General is going to a major target of hate-mongers on the Left, including the Press and Media. It’s for sure he’ll be in for the “Meese treatment.”
In the next four years, we can also expect to see more and more attacks on the Bible itself, and on conservative interpretations of it. Those who believe in teaching and practicing Biblical sexual morality will become primary targets. For moral liberals, this is the ultimate issue. It all comes down to sex. If Christians could be Christians without advocating any rules for sexual morality, they’d probably leave us alone.
Every institution of our culture that in any way represents or advocates Biblical sexual morality will be mercilessly attacked – from the Church proper to the Boy Scouts. The military has already been substantially undermined. America’s schools have long ago been subverted. Our major universities have been morally corrupted. Hollywierd pumps out a steady stream of raw cinematic sewage. Radio’s “shock jocks” are riding the crest of a wave of popularity. Our culture has been generally downgraded, coarsened, undermined and trashed.
In the political sphere, we’ve witnessed the death of patriotism, honor, dignity, truth and justice. In Washington, for the past eight years, the sleeze has been up to the horses’ bridles. Justice in the nation’s partisan courts has become a joke – witness the Florida Supreme Court.
As the years roll by, the focus of persecution will come down ever tighter upon the conservative manifestations of the Church. We had better be prepared to defend, and perhaps be persecuted for, our faith.
What to shore up
Every Christian needs be prepared at all times to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (I Peter 15). We should have reasons for our beliefs and practices, and we should be able to articulate those to people who ask about them. Perhaps most importantly, we need to be able to answer ourselves. If we are someday called upon to suffer for our faith, will we have the conviction to go through with it? It’s a question that’s becoming increasingly relevant.
As Christians, we need to know why we believe in God, and why we accept the authority of the Bible to define our lifestyles. Can we demonstrate the existence of God? Can we prove that the Bible is more than a book of outmoded myths and fictions? Can we truly articulate the reasons we believe the doctrines we believe? Are we willing to go to jail for them – or perhaps to die for them?
It’s not merely a matter of faith or stubbornness. It’s one of standing on solid spiritual ground – of knowing what we believe and why we believe it. It’s an issue that involves the depth of our conviction.
Jesus taught his talmidim (disciples), “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Are we at this point? Are we more afraid of God than of man?
I believe the Churches of God need at this time to generate programs to strengthen the belief, faith and conviction of the brethren. At the ministerial or academic level, we need to develop a body of competent apologists who can truly defend the faith at a high level of sophistication. Regrettably, many, if not most, of the Churches of God have largely purged their intellectual classes in favor of authoritarian loyalists who will rally “the troops” to “support Headquarters.”
At various points, more and more of us are going to be asked to stand up for our beliefs without the benefit of help from “Headquarters.” “All who live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). It’s a given. The more closely one’s life approximates the Biblical standard, the more likely one is to be persecuted. In our time, the tide of society is turning against Christians. As individual Christians, we can expect to be abandoned by our peers and superiors. His followers abandoned even Jesus prior to his trial. When it comes to making a choice, we may find ourselves utterly on our own – like the teenage student in Littleton, Colorado. It may simply be between God, your persecutors and you. We may find that nobody willing to go to the wall with us. The question is, are we individually ready for such a worst case scenario?
The object here is not to frighten you, or to make you paranoid. Jesus taught, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). This implies that at least some of us will be found worthy to escape. Our trust must be in the Lord. He alone can protect us from a world that will soon be in wholesale rebellion against Yeshua Ha Mashiach, His people, and all that he stands for. The spirit of antichrist is surely in the world today. It is gathering mainstream steam. Consider this article a heads-up.