IDOP 2014
Christian Persecution

Today we will not forget those who suffer for Jesus Christ

 

In 1955 a young Dutch Christian joined a Communist youth group in order to visit Eastern European countries, with the intention of discovering how Christians lived behind the Iron Curtain. Weeks later, on a trip to Czechoslovakia, he managed to separate from his group. What he found was a suffering church and that Bibles were very scarce. Officials were angry he had broken away from the official tour and had gained contact with Christians. As a result, he was prohibited from entering the country again, but having seen with his own eyes the levels of oppression, he decided to dedicate his life to aiding the suffering churches behind the Iron Curtain. He obtained a Volkswagen Beetle and spent the next few years smuggling Bibles and Christian literature into Soviet countries.

When a book was published which recounted his life story and experiences, it became an international bestseller, selling over 10 million copies. The name of the book was God’s Smuggler and his name is Andy Van der Bijl, or, as he has come to be known, Brother Andrew. His initial forays into Communist Europe developed and grew into the organisation Open Doors, which now continues his work of supporting the persecuted church in over 60 countries.

Open Doors is just one of a number of global organisations serving Christians living in countries where their freedom to believe and worship is but a distant dream. They stand alongside Barnabas Fund, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release International, Aid to the Church in Need and others carrying out this important, life-saving work. When Brother Andrew discovered the plight of the churches in Communist Czechoslovakia, he saw first-hand a treatment that has been the experience of millions of Christians ever since the birth of Christianity. Jesus was murdered by those who hated Him, and His followers throughout the ages have paid the price for their faith – through persecution, imprisonment and often with their own lives.

Persecution is to be expected for Christians, because to follow Jesus is counter-cultural and far beyond the realm of mere private morality. Instead, following Jesus involves standing in faith against the powers of evil and darkness, which is a public act. Writing to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul described the Christian life as a struggle ‘not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’

Today has been designated by the World Evangelical Alliance the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It is a time set apart and remember thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who suffer persecution for no other reason than that they confess Jesus Christ as Lord.

For those of us who live in countries where personal security is taken for granted, and to attend a church and worship God holds no fear, it is imperative that our spiritual family who suffer for the same faith are never forgotten.

It is to our own great shame that many Western Christians have had to hear about the rapid recent increase in the brutal tyranny against Christians in the Middle East through the secular media: our consciences are pricked by Twitter rather than a sermon. When we see the executions or dislocations of entire ancient Christian populations, anger stirs in our souls. The work of Canon Andrew White – the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ – has also done much to open our eyes to the painful realities of life in Iraq and Syria.

The appalling treatment of Christians in this region almost defies words, and yet there are other places where the persecution is just as horrendous, if not worse. It is well known that the most dangerous country for Christians is North Korea. Here the entire population is forced to publicly worship Kim Jong-Un and his dynasty as a gods. All other forms of worship are illegal. Every citizen is registered by the state as either loyal, wavering or hostile to the regime. This designation guides what job opportunities people can get and how much food they receive.

Wearing a cross in North Korea will lead to certain arrest, as will owning a Bible or meeting Christians or talking to others about Jesus. Tens of thousands of Christians are held in prison camps, which have high death rates due to malnutrition and execution. The state police send out agents posing as Christians to infiltrate and destroy underground churches. As a result, being able to trust others is almost impossible. The few Bibles available are hidden well away. Scripture is memorised and worship is carried out in silence. Believers will go far into the woods and mountains at night to escape attention in order to pray and share.

Yet, despite this incredible level of hostility, the church in North Korea is growing. Christians pray fervently for their country and will risk everything to share the Good News of Jesus because they know that there is no greater gift in life than to know God and receive His love. One Christian said:

We now pray the prayer of Queen Esther. She was called ‘for a time like this’, as Mordecai told her. That applies to us too. We are called to spread His light in a time like this and under these difficult circumstances. We experience that God uses the persecution to sanctify His church and are grateful that we in our weakness receive His strength. We pray that we are able to do His will in every situation and if we perish, we perish.

The Bible tells us in Hebrews to ‘remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering’.

As we sit in church today, or in our comfy chairs at home, is it too much to pause and think of those who are enduring persecution for the sake of the gospel? Let us remember those who have not eaten for days because they are given nothing to eat; those languishing in prison; Christian families who have watched their homes burn to the ground; pastors who are beaten and tortured for their faith and enduring physical pain; Christian families and children living in constant fear of violence; those who have lost their loved ones and those who are facing death, even right at this moment, for refusing to denounce Christ.

We need to ask God to give His people strength in their suffering and protection against the forces of evil. But as we do so, we should also pray for ourselves that we might learn from their example, grasping the depths of faith and their desire to spread the gospel that has seen the Church grow in many of the most difficult environments, whilst ours continues to move in the opposite direction.

  • Amen.

  • IanCad

    Thanks for bringing this to notice Gillan.

    Not just for today but everyday the persecuted must be a subject of our prayers.

    What blessings we have to live in a land of liberty. Oh, I know, the secularlists would have us down if they but could. The militant atheists would outlaw us and the teaching industry wishes we would just go away.

    Who knows? perhaps one day we may face such trials; we can only believe that He who strengthens us will also sustain us – and if He chooses not to – then we also should resolve not to proclaim other gods.

    I do believe that most Christians living today in lands of peace and plenty would stand firm for their faith should trials come.

    Our liberty is the legacy of past sacrifices. We must never forget those who paid the price.

  • DanJ0

    Article: “Persecution is to be expected for Christians, because to follow Jesus is counter-cultural and far beyond the realm of mere private morality.”

    Well, it is now in the UK. In the past, to not follow Jesus was counter-cultural. People who were guilty of heresy against the church were judicially murdered for it.

    • Martin

      DanJ0

      You are mistaken, it has always been counter-cultural and any Christian who challenged the culture was subject to attempts to get them to stop.

      Spurgeon, for example, was attacked in the press and there has been plenty of mockery since. If a character is a Christian in a play you can bet they won’t be treated sympathetically. Take for example the Methodist postman in Lark Rise to Candleford who was pictured as almost an imbecile.

      • DanJ0

        I don’t see how what I said can really be challenged, other than to say that the church of the time was not following Jesus. Of course our religious wars, and those in the rest of Europe, involved Christians of one sort or another going against the prevailing Christian culture. However, the prevailing culture was undoubtedly Christian for hundreds of years. Indeed, society was considered to be divinely ordered and woe betide anyone who tried to challenge that, such as the Anabaptists.

        • A couple of things need pointing out.
          Temporal rulers and states then and now have the legitimate authority to administer capital punishment. At the time of the Inquisitions, the states involved were Catholic. Kings and emperors were crowned in religious ceremonies and derived their authority from the Church. To attack the doctrines of the Church and its authority was to attack the State.

          A heretic spread doctrinal error and was also a social revolutionary. Why? Because to be a heretic meant one was dedicated to overthrowing both the Church and, by implication, the temporal order, i.e. fomenting treason. The Church’s main role was to determine if the accused was actually a heretic or not. The State’s official punishment for heresy was execution because it was tantamount to treason.

          • CliveM

            Doesn’t make it right. Indeed any religious persecution by the State, whether Protestant or RC can be justified by that argument. The real heresy was Christianity allowing itself to become an organ of the State.

          • Never said it made it right; just putting it into some kind of perspective.
            And why do you say Christianity was an organ of the State? There wouldn’t have been European States without Christianity.

          • CliveM

            All to often the Church has aligned itself with the interests of the ruling class of the State. Indeed the senior levels of the Church came from the same class. To be effective and a real witness, the Church needs to be a positively critical voice. All to often it has simply sat back and enjoyed the material fruits of privilege.

          • And yet, at the same time, it has also successfully carried the Christian Gospel from Jerusalem, in the 1st century, through to today and has produced many saints along the way. By its teachings, it established a moral framework for society – for marriage and for individual conduct. It brought education and health services, relief to the poor and needy and general social stability.

          • CliveM

            Indeed it has, however by aligning itself to the rich and powerful as it has often done, it has also at times compromised its message and handicapped the power of the Gospel.

            This is true of both Catholic and Protestant Churches. Indeed if we look at WW1, we can see how compromised the Church became, with regards how it responded to the start of the war.

          • Ever wondered if Christianity would have remained no more than a minority sect without the Roman Empire? Look how its being wiped out in the Middle East today by the forces of evil.
            The Church is human; it makes mistakes. As Augustine said, “God judged it better to bring good out of evil, than to suffer no evil to exist.”

          • CliveM

            It is a difficult balancing act for the Church. However it is thriving in countries where it is at best tolerated by the State, like China. If the Church is to have a prophetic voice, it can be a sceptical friend of the State, but it must be seen to have independence from it. The States interests are not the Churches interests, although they do occasionally over lap.

          • In an ideal world there would be no conflict between the Church and the State. Their interests are surely both the same – individual and common good in this life and the next.

          • CliveM

            In an ideal world certainly. But then in an ideal world, Christ would have returned and the State as we understand it will have ceased to exist.

          • The ‘ideal’ arises because of the lack of conflict as evil will have been removed. Until this time, the interests of the Church and State remain the same – our individual and collective temporal and spiritual wellbeing. The precise relationship will be determined by any given set of circumstances.

          • CliveM

            Actually I want to slightly emphasise my point! The Church entered a pact with the devil, whereby it implicitly said to the State, you protect my interests and I will protect yours. By doing so, it often condoned behaviour it should never have done.

            Some parts of the Church did stand out. The Jesuits in South America for example attempted to protect the rights of the natives. But back home the Church hierarchy in Spain acted as cheer leaders to the rape of these countries. All so it could ‘evangelise’ to the heathen. And help itself to some of the wealth.

            Likewise the CofE supported the Imperial Project, when perhaps it should have questioned it more strongly.

          • “The Church entered a pact with the devil, whereby it implicitly said to the State, you protect my interests and I will protect yours.”

            Think you’ll find it was ever so slightly more complex than this very 21st century perspective allows for.

          • CliveM

            Actually very often it wasn’t. Ok my description wasn’t nuanced. Space and time doesn’t allow. But fundamentally it wasn’t that much more complicated.

          • An atheist, hostile to Christianity, posts an attack on the Church. Are we to agree without qualification? Just roll over and accept his historical analysis at face value?

            The ‘story’ is complex and undoubtedly a history of good mixed with evil. Of saints and sinners in the Church and the State. But let’s not just acquiesce in the face of attempts to present a one sided account of Christian history. Let’s learn the lessons and also celebrate its 2000 year growth, survival and successes.

            The truth is complex; it’s not just “bad” Christianity. And as Jack has already said, “God judged it better to bring good out of evil, than to suffer no evil to exist.”

          • CliveM

            Indeed their is a lot we can and should celebrate. The outlawing of slavery. The stands by various social reformers for a more just society. The stand in the early medieval period against the violent and warlike social standards of the time. The provision of education and schooling. The provision of food, care and clothing to the poor by the monasteries and Churches, very often in the face of indifferent and hostile forces. And we could go on.

            BUT we have also to face our failings and be honest about them. We cannot hide what has happened, it is already out there. Besides the church isn’t Christ and it is in him we have out faith, not an organisation. If we place our faith in the Church, we will always be disappointed.

          • William Lewis

            Indeed Clive. The only answer to valid criticisms of the church is an honest apology. Whether those criticisms come from an atheist or a church elder is irrelevant.

          • True, but if an apology is to be genuine we need to be clear about the actual errors made so we learn from them. Otherwise it means little. The Church can’t just apologise for being human and being in the world, can it? It is called to a higher standard and has fallen short throughout history. We have to be fair both to the members of Christ’s Body as well as the actual victims of the sins it committed.

            On a more personal note, how much responsibility do you as a Christian today accept for the failings of the Church in the past? Or do you distance yourself from guilt by saying it was a “false church”?

          • William Lewis

            “How much responsibility do you as a Christian today accept for the failings of your Church in the past? Or do you distance yourself from guilt by saying it was a “false church”?”

            That seems to me to be a false dichotomy. As a Christian I feel a responsibility to acknowledge and apologise on behalf of those genuine wrongs that were done in Christ’s name. But I feel no guilt on account of them and so have no personal need to identify them as “false church”, other than the fact that they are false.

          • “As a Christian I feel a responsibility to acknowledge and apologise on behalf of those genuine wrongs that were done in Christ’s name.”

            So are you distancing yourself from the pre-Reformation Church? Or just from the “bad” aspects of its history? And how do you judge “genuine wrongs”?

          • William Lewis

            “So are you distancing yourself from the pre-Reformation Church? Or just from the “bad” aspects of its history?”

            Not sure how you got there from what I said, but no I was not distancing myself (from any particular period in Church history). In fact I am acknowledging (and in some sense owning) the impact of its “bad” aspects on the Faith that I follow. Unless, of course, it is “false church” and then I would deny it.

            “And how do you judge genuine wrongs”?”

            I suggest that you start with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The New Testament has lots of info. 🙂

            Anyways Jack. One senses that you are spoiling for something, so shall we leave it there?

          • Not spoiling for something, William. Honest. It’s just that Jack gets very (let’s say) annoyed with the constant attacks on our forefathers in faith and the willingness of some to be simply embarrassed by this without recognising Christianity’s glorious achievements. The Church’s history is complex and not open to simple strap lines.

          • William Lewis

            If you are saying that we should sing the praises of our forebears in Christ then amen to that and I have no problem with challenging revisionist Church history either, but the sins cannot be ignored or hidden.

            Non-believers may or may not accept apologies for what they are, but they will not (and should not) accept attempts to ignore the failings.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack

            You have a point. This thread has got unbalanced and I have let my enthusiasm for the discussion lead me into going on about it more the I intended originally. I stand by my original point, but yes on this thread we should also be reflecting on the good the world wide church has done and continues to do.

          • dannybhoy

            HJ
            I accept that I am a part of that Church, that I have failed in so many ways to show Christ to the world, and that those sins are in a sense my sins.
            I just haven’t got around to torturing any heretics yet…

          • dannybhoy

            The real issue Jack is should the Church, aka the body of Christ ever be tied to a non Christian system of governance?
            Isn’t the role of the Church to be a salt and light influence in the world, not a part of the system? Thus we exert an influence through our example and allow that influence to affect society as it will.
            I have to say that I agree with much of what DanJ0 is saying,
            -apart from accusing you of being a “pompous berk” of course. 🙂
            He is rather rude, but that doesn’t detract from the truth of what he is saying. Having non Christian and Jewish folk adding their viewpoints is imv very healthy.

          • Where has Jack said the Church should hide its failings? All he’s saying is retain a historical balance.

            “Besides the church isn’t Christ and it is in him we have out faith, not an organisation.”

            Well Jack believes the Church is Christ’s Body on earth. It’s a society of those who have been baptised and who profess the faith of Christ. St. Paul speaks of all Christians as members of Christ so that with Him they form one Body.

          • CliveM

            Sorry I don’t understand, are you saying it the Church you have your faith in?

          • As you know, Jack is a Roman Catholic. He places his faith in Jesus Christ. He also believes the Church, spoken of by St. Paul as His Body, was inaugurated on Pentecost when God sent the Holy Spirit. This is a human, visible organisation, governed by bishops under the Pope, Christ’s vicar on earth. Therefore, in Jack’s mind, there is no contradiction between placing his faith in Christ and in His visible Church.

          • CliveM

            Thing is, I can point to Jesus Christ, the risen Lord and his life and know that the life he led was perfect and pleasing to God.

            I wouldn’t be able to do that with the Church. I would have to excuse, explain and apologise for it. I could point to the good it had also done, but it could not be described as perfect and pleasing to God.

          • No and Jesus never promised it would be. It’s a human organisation made up of saintly and sinful men. It makes mistakes and it commits sin. The question is whether through its 2000 year history, despite all this, what it teaches is true to the Gospel. You’re not asked to worship the Church or the men in it but through it to worship God.

          • dannybhoy

            Slightly disingenuous there Jack.
            It is also the leaders of that Church who tell us how to worship, have the authority to forgive us our sins, tell us our state of grace and what processes we can expect to go through in our journey to Heaven!

          • Of course. That’s why the Church is there – to guide us to Heaven. In spiritual matters, concerning doctrines of faith and teachings on morals, the Church cannot err. God would not permit this. In temporal, earthly affairs and in the conduct of particular members, it can make mistakes and commit sin.

          • dannybhoy

            You believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins and that you are justified by grace, that grace being manifested in your life by the indwelling of the blessed Holy Spirit in your heart producing fruit and good works acceptable to our God, yes?
            No added ingredients, terms and conditions apply?
            Good.
            Then if you accept that you and I are brothers in Christ whether you like it or not.
            Love ya, Jackie baby!!

          • “No added ingredients, terms and conditions apply?

            Except we can lose the saving graces necessary for salvation through grievous sin and through negligence. We have to cooperate with God. Hence the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion.

          • dannybhoy

            “Except we can lose the saving graces necessary for salvation through grievous sin and through negligence.”
            We can lose our salvation yes, but again one needs to exercise caution and explain what we mean by that,
            There is a big difference between a man or woman who stumbles whilst running their own particular race, and someone who deliberately turns to worship the god of this world and hardens his/her heart against the grace of God.

            Your second sentence I can’t agree with in the sense that you mean it, i.e. your Church’s interpretation and practice of Holy Communion.
            Do I believe I will go to Hell or purgatory for not taking regular Communion?
            No I don’t.
            Do I think it’s possible to outwardly conform to all ritual and Church doctrine and still miss the point?
            Yes, I do.

          • “Your second sentence I can’t agree with in the sense that you mean it, i.e. your Church’s interpretation and practice of Holy Communion.”

            If you did agree, you’d be a Catholic, wouldn’t you?

            “Do I believe I will go to Hell or purgatory for not taking regular Communion?
            No I don’t.”

            Have you actually understood Catholic theology? It does back to the nature of faith and justification. It goes back to my first sentence.

            “There is a big difference between a man or woman who stumbles whilst running their own particular race, and someone who deliberately turns to worship the god of this world and hardens his/her heart against the grace of God.”

            In Catholicism one doesn’t lose grace and righteousness just as a result of apostasy or a final rejection of the Holy Spirit. We believe that serious falls must be resisted and sin actively resisted. If not some sin results in the loss of grace and the severing of the relationship with Christ. Its a fundamental difference between our theologies. To restore grace to the soul, confession is required and the supernatural grace it infuses. Holy Communion means just that. Union with Christ and union with His Body, His Church. That’s why reception of the Eucharist is ‘closed’ to those in a state of grievous sin and to non-Catholics. This is where we cooperate with God – although even this cooperation is through the working of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

            “Do I think it’s possible to outwardly conform to all ritual and Church doctrine and still miss the point?
            Yes, I do.”

            And Jack agrees. The ritual is both an expression of the meaning of process taking place and also a supernatural means of receiving grace. Many Catholics do actually get the point; many do not. However, its not necessary to understand all the nuances of theology behind the Sacraments or to be a scriptural scholar. What’s needed in faith in Christ, an understanding of His death and resurrection, a commitment to avoid sin and live a charitable life, and following the Church. The Holy Spirit us to this but we have to cooperate.

            It’s like a different Gospel to the Protestant one, isn’t it?

          • dannybhoy

            If you did agree, you’d be a Catholic, wouldn’t you?

            Well not necessarily. I might just be an “ecumenical yes man” or even a bog standard, eager to please peacemaker…. 😉

            “In Catholicism one doesn’t lose grace and righteousness just as a result
            of deliberate apostasy or a final rejection of the Holy Spirit.
            We believe that serious falls must be resisted and sin actively resisted. Some sins result in a loss of grace and the severing of the relationship
            with Christ.

            Its a fundamental difference between our theologies.”

            Perhaps you fail to understand Protestant theology Jack!

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holiness_movement

            “Holiness unto the Lord!” was the watchword of the Puritan movement, and in my early Christian years I attended a Gospel Hall Brethren meeting and they certainly believed in holiness!
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_Hall_Brethren

            Let me make it clear to you Jack. I will not allow ANY organised Church to dictate to me how to live my Christian life, and tell me what I must do to live a life pleasing to God.

            I get all that information through the Scriptures, and I trust and respect Godly men and women who also follow the Scriptures with no added extras!

            I accept the rebukes and promptings of the Holy Spirit, whether in my conscience or through the agency of Godly people. I believe in the regular coming together of Christians for worship, fellowship and edification through the teaching of the Word without any added extras!

            I accept that the real Christian Church aka the Body or Bride of Christ, is made up of believers from all Christian denominations old and new.

            I accept that as has been amply demonstrated over the years that Christians and their denominations get things seriously wrong.

            This is because we are all in various states of grace and sanctification, and illustrates why NO human being or organisation should claim divine authority and endorsement for their particular brand of Christianity.
            Sola Scripture!

          • “Let me make it clear to you Jack. I will not allow ANY organised Church to dictate to me how to live my Christian life, and tell me what I must do to live a life pleasing to God.”

            Well quite; Jack is fully aware of your rebellious nature. That’s what makes you a heretical Protestant. It rather counters Mathew 16 and Jack’s not sure St. Paul would have agreed with you either.

            “Perhaps you fail to understand Protestant theology Jack!”

            Ummm … it would assist if there was just one!

            “Sola Scripture!”

            Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus!

          • dannybhoy

            So Pope Innocent the Third got it wrong too, but then he had a vested interest didn’t he..
            Jack, again I fear you are ignoring the reality that man’s attempts to understand the Divine purpose has always but always resulted in contentions and divisions. Actually I regard that as healthy.
            Our Lord said
            “.4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
            John 15:English Standard Version <i<Anglicised!

            “Abide in Me” saith the Lord, not in a particular church…
            🙂

          • dannybhoy

            I reprint this from http://catholicism.org/category/outside-the-church-there-is-no-salvation

            ““The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that
            none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans,
            but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life
            eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared
            for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with
            Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that
            only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of
            the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal
            recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of
            Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his
            almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood
            for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom
            and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)
            Pretty shocking doncha think?

          • Pope Innocent III? He did what he believed to be right in the times in which he lived. He asserted the absolute spiritual authority of the Pope but he still respected the temporal authority of Kings. He just expected them to follow Christ’s laws.

            And we abide in Christ through following the teachings and receiving the Sacraments of His Church.

          • dannybhoy

            “Pope Innocent III? A great Pope. He did what he believed to be right in the times in which he lived.”

            “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)

            Hmmmmm.

            “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that
            none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but
            also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life
            eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared
            for the devil and his angels…”

            (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)

            So both were men of their times, and therefore didn’t have the full understanding of how the Holy Spirit moves and works in the hearts of men..
            So they weren’t giving the whole, definitive mind of God on the matter.

          • No … both of those statements are dogmatically correct.
            The Catholic Church at Vatican II picked up the concept of “invincible ignorance” (note, not pig headedness) to refer to the state of persons who are ignorant or blindly uninformed about the Christian message and the Catholic faith.

          • retiredbloke

            Jack, I cannot find any words of Jesus in which He instructs His disciples to form an organisation and to build a huge edifice to their temporal power financed by selling indulgences and collecting money from the poor. If Jesus is Head of His Church why on earth does He need a vicar, or substitute when He is alive and can do the job himself through His Holy Spirit. The end of your church is recorded in Revelation 17 and you should get out while you’ve still time.

          • dannybhoy

            Agreed, apart from your last sentence. I think we should leave that bit up to the Lord Himself!
            I get quite queasy about making those kind of pronouncements. Yes, I know it says it in the Bible and I believe it, but as far as our Handsome Jack is concerned -or any other Roman Catholic for that matter, I leave these things as between them and Our Lord.
            I fear the Lord will have plenty to berate me with when the time comes… 🙂

          • “Yes, I know it says it in the Bible and I believe it …”
            You believe Revelation 17 and 18 refers to the Vatican and the Catholic Church?!! Jack thought you more sensible.

          • dannybhoy

            I said it’s in the Bible and I believe it. Although as you know I have my own thoughts on reading Scripture (Revelation and Hebrews were disputed entries into the Canon of Scriptures anyway)

            “Who’s speaking to whom.
            What’s going on at the time and place.
            Is it God’s pronouncement or a man’s opinion.
            Does it fit in with the revealed nature of God.”

            I am a peacemaker remember?
            “There will be peace in the valley, etc.”

            I would rather love my brother who loves Our Lord than lose him or her over theology…
            So I exercise the same reluctance to judge the Catholic Church as I do to judge people of faith who struggle with their sexuality…

          • CliveM

            Dannybhoy

            I’m confused, your 1st and 3rd sentence seem to contradict each other.

            Of course some think it refers to the EU, some the UN and me? I don’t know I suspect it is still to come (or it might be UKIP! :))

          • dannybhoy

            Don’t be confused Clive, just believe!
            Did my response to HJ below explain it?

          • CliveM

            Not really! Do you think this paragraph refers to the RCC?

          • dannybhoy

            There are lots of things we could (with fear and trembling) lay at the feet of the Roman Catholic Church, all made worse by its insistence on being the one true Church appointed by our Lord Himself. I personally disagree with much of the theology, although as I have said to Jack before if you accept its presuppositions it makes sense. But what it has done in the name of Jesus Christ has been truly awful and reprehensible. The Lord will deal with that as He will deal with you and me.

            But the Roman Catholic Church didn’t exist when Saint John wrote those words.
            Revelation 17:1
            “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgement of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” Revelation 17:17

            and 4-6
            “4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” 6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus”

            It could just as easily be the Roman Empire that is being talked about.

          • CliveM

            As people of faith, we live in an increasingly intolerant world. I believe we have enough real enemies, without turning our ‘family’ into enemies as well.

            I think Revelation is one of those books that needs to be treated very cautiously as it is prone to multiple and conflicting understandings. I think it is better understood in the context of the time it was written and the trials of the Christians at that time.

          • dannybhoy

            “I believe we have enough real enemies, without turning our ‘family’ into enemies as well.”
            Absolutely Clive.
            That’s the wisest and most profound thing you’ve said all day!
            😉

          • CliveM

            Not a challenging benchmark!

          • dannybhoy

            But spoken like a true son of God!

          • And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus”
            ‘Michael sattler shall be committed to the executioner. The latter shall take him to the square and there first cut out his tongue., and then forge him fast to a wagon and there with glowing tongs twice tear pieces from his body, then on the way to the site of execution five times more as above and then burn his body to powder as an arch-heretic.’
            Sentence passed on matthew sattler, Anabaptist: Rottenburg, May 1527.

          • The sentence was passed by Count Joachim of Zollern, regent of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, not the Church.

          • ‘Whore of Babylon’ and all that? Rather stretching things to apply this to the Roman Catholic Church and Vatican City.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Ah, so you have met Signora Neroni?

          • Lol …. bad Mrs Proudie.

          • DanJ0

            An attack on the church? It’s a legitimate point about culture and counter-culture in the context of the article. How paranoid and defensive are you? Jeez.

          • Who are you trying to kid? It was a simplistic swipe at Christianity – and on a day devoted to reflecting on present day Christian persecutions.

          • DanJ0

            The first thing that jumped out at me in the article was the smuggling in of Bibles so that people could read what was prohibited. That has strong echoes with what happened from Henry VIII’s time onwards as he vacillated over religious structure and doctrine. Christians were persecuted by other Christians for holding so-called heretical beliefs, including denying trans-substantiation. Some, such as Anne Askew, were burned alive slowly for holding counter-cultural beliefs at the behest of Bishop Gardiner. Though, it’s true she was unfortunate enough to have got caught up in court politics.

          • The post was better without this later addition: “Oh wind your neck in, you pompous berk.” Is abusing others like a Tourette’s thing with you?

          • DanJ0

            Dodo, you tried hard enough to cause a fight earlier and you’ve had some attention from me so no doubt it’s a bit of a result as far as you’re concerned. Of course, you wouldn’t even realise that it’s ‘International Day of […]’ without Gillan publishing his article so don’t overplay your part with the faux outrage. 😉

          • Lol …. sometimes Jack really doesn’t know if you’re deluded and actually believe this nonsense, or whether these remarks are all part of the forum chess game you like to play. Still, it amuses Jack at times and makes him laugh.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            “…an organ of the State.” Wasn’t that Ted Heath?

          • CliveM

            I don’t know what you mean??!!

        • CliveM

          DanJo

          These weren’t religious wars. This was power politics at its most brutal and violent. Occasionally the two sides where differentiated by religion, but it wasn’t always so.

          • DanJ0

            I think there was more than power politics going on there. The stuff with the Anabaptists, sacramentarians, Lutherans, Calvinists etc was counter-cultural as far as the prevailing Christian culture was concerned.

          • CliveM

            Well this whole question is the subject of some debate. However at the very least there does seem to be a some broad agreement that to describe the as simply religious wars, disguises the actual complexity of what was often about political power.

          • dannybhoy

            Clive, he’s right. The established Church most cruelly attacked those who questioned its teachings and therefore its authority.

          • CliveM

            Dannybhoy

            Yes the Church did cruelly attack those they saw as heretics. However that does not mean that the motivation for the ‘religious’ wars where not down to brutal politics and power. To define better what I mean, as far as the poor bl”@&y infantry was concerned they were certainly often led to believe that they were fighting for their faith. But as far as those who caused the wars, the leaders and Kings, power was very much the motivation.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s also what I was getting at Clive, by mentioning the growth of finery and opulent living by the heads of the Church.
            There were mixed motives, cynical motives and ruthless motives, all with an eye on maintaining the balance of power and increasing the influence of the Church both temporal and spiritual.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Conversely, dear Clive, one could argue that the heretics attacked the established Church, which therefore was obliged to defend itself.

          • CliveM

            One could and certainly violence wasn’t limited to one side only.

            I was a good time not to be around.

        • Martin

          DanJ0

          Of course you can’t see, you’re dead in your sins.

          • DanJ0

            And you’re dead in your brain.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            The reason you cannot see the truth of what I say is because you’re dead in your sins, you need to be born again.

          • DanJ0

            You’re like a broken record, you half-wit. Most people here can make a reasonable argument without relying on their opponent having a direct line to your god.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            You don’t have a direct line to God, you’ve turned your back on the God you know exists. But God can save you without your consent.

          • DanJ0

            And … loop.

          • dannybhoy

            Martin,
            (ot)
            “But God can save you without your consent.”
            You really believe that?
            Can you support that affirmation please.

          • Martin

            danny

            Can you show me how the dead can give their assent?

          • dannybhoy

            (Chuckles)
            But Martin, when we say they’re dead…what does that mean?
            As a matter of interest may I ask what your beliefs are?
            No Jehovah’s Witness influence lurking around?
            God would not force a person to be saved, simply because His revealed nature in the Scriptures show that He gave man free will.
            Secondly, when a human dies that’s it. Whatever moral and spiritual state they were in at the time they popped their clogs will be the state that God will judge them on.
            “I sent my Son into the world to experience life as a human being, and to choose whether or not to live a life of obedience to MY revealed Law through Moses, and subsequently to allow Himself to die an agonising death on the Cross for sins and your salvation. What did you think of My Son and what He did for you?”
            That’s going to be the big question for all non believers..

          • May I suggest a prayerful study of John 5:25-26 and 28-29.
            They refer to two quite different events.

          • dannybhoy

            Sorry Martin, didn’t connect you without the Marprelate

            I think Our Lord is referring to those who died in the days of Noah -the Flood. Our Lord had to descend to the dead to show that death could not hold Him and to preach the Gospel to them.
            Do I understand it?
            Not really!.

            Amplified version..

            25 “Believe Me when I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the time is coming and is here now when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear it shall live.
            26 For even as the Father has life in Himself and is self-existent, so He has given to the Son to have life in Himself and be self-existent.”

            28-29..
            “Do not be surprised and wonder at this, for the time is coming when all those who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 And they shall come out—those who have practiced doing good [will come out] to the resurrection of [new] life, and those who have done evil will be raised for judgment [raised to meet their sentence].”

            (I think this was referred to in the Ist letter of Saint Peter 3:18-20)

            “18 For Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once [f]for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit,
            19 In which He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 [The souls of those] who long before in the days of Noah had been disobedient, when God’s patience waited during the building of the ark in which a few [people], actually eight in number, were saved through water.

          • Er…..no.
            Verse 25 refers to the New Birth. Those who are dead in their sins hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are brought to spiritual life.
            Verses 28-29 refer to our Lord’s second coming when the dead will be raised and come to judgement. But verse 24 tells us that those who hear Christ’s word in the Gospel and trust in Him for salvation will not come into judgement. Why not? Because Christ has paid for their sins on the cross.

          • dannybhoy

            Hmmm,
            I checked your explanation out and you are right. So what’s Saint Peter referring to then?

          • 1 Peter 3:18ff is one of the more difficult texts, but it doesn’t mean that our Lord went personally into hell to preach to the men of Noah’s time.
            Noah is described as a ‘preacher of righteousness’ (2 Peter 2:5). What the text means is that when Noah preached to the men of his time, warned them of the wrath to come and urged them to repent, Christ was in his preaching, though no one listened. In the same way, every time the Gospel is faithfully preached today, the voice of Christ is heard, whether or not people respond. This is the meaning of John 5:25. People dead in their sins won’t literally hear our Lord’s voice, but in the voice of the faithful preacher, or in the pages of the Bible, Christ will speak, and those who hear His voice will receive spiritual life and be saved.

          • Martin

            Danny

            It means that like a physically dead person cannot be involved in the living world they cannot be involved in what is spiritual. They cannot comprehend anything beyond the physical & from a spiritual pov are simply stinking corpses.

            They cannot even seek salvation so God has to drag them, kicking & screaming into the Kingdom. They gave their free will to their sin long ago & that is what rules their lives.

            Jesus’ purpose was to take upon Himself the sin & punishment of His people, to give to them His righteousness that they might glorify God & enjoy Him for ever.

            The big question for the unbeliever will be, you knew I existed, why didn’t you believe what I said.

          • dannybhoy

            “The big question for the unbeliever will be, you knew I existed, why didn’t you believe what I said.”

            Well, you’ve already answered the question,
            “It means that like a physically dead person cannot be involved in the living world they cannot be involved in what is spiritual. They cannot comprehend anything beyond the physical & from a spiritual pov are simply stinking corpses.

            If people are incapable of comprehension then how can they be judged?

          • Martin

            Danny

            They know God exists but pretend He doesn’t, that is sufficient to condemn them. And, of course, they have the Bible to tell them more.

          • dannybhoy

            MM,
            “They cannot even seek salvation so God has to drag them, kicking &
            screaming into the Kingdom. They gave their free will to their sin long
            ago & that is what rules their lives.”
            (This is an interesting thread you’ve got going here Martin, and I’m not sure how much your way of putting things is obscuring the actual degree of agreement we have.)

            So, do you believe in predestination as in “Those whom God chooses” etc.?
            http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/410259/Netherlands-Reformed-Church
            Or are you saying (as I think you’re saying) that we are dead in our sins, that the natural man is at enmity with God
            Romans 8
            “7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
            8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

            That it is through the preaching of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit acting on that word and using in some mystical way the prayers of the believers in awakening the individual to their state of sinfulness and need of salvation?

            If so I would say that echoes my own journey to faith, in that I heard the Gospel many times, yet remained convinced of my own self righteousness until God spoke directly to my heart and showed me my true sinful state. people had been praying for me probably for years.
            Is that what you’re getting at?

          • Martin

            Danny

            I’m saying both, or is it all three.

          • dannybhoy

            🙂
            Have a good weekend.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Dear Martin, few of us have a direct line to God. I however have a direct line to the Bishop of Barchester, and that amounts to the same thing.

          • Martin

            Mrs Proudie

            It’s good to hear you have such a correct view of your lord & master.

          • CliveM

            Martin

            If you want people to listen to you, do you not think a less abrasive style might help?
            I don’t know if this is the case with DanJo but you use a religious form of language that most non Christians today won’t understand.

          • DanJ0

            Actually I’m pretty familiar with that particular notion, and what I see as a related [1] allegory in John 15:1–6. I spent a year or so talking about such stuff with an American protestant over Internet many years ago when forums were based on Usenet.

            [1] But perhaps that’s controversial for some here.

          • CliveM

            I’m not sure why it would be particularly controversial. But then I am constantly surprised by things that turn out to be controversial. I’m not a good judge on these things.

            I thought you probably would be aware of the notion.

          • DanJ0

            I was thinking of the denominational differences in opinion whether salvation is permanent, or something which can be lost.

          • Martin

            Clive

            I think dead is a pretty adequate way of expressing the state of the sinner. Indeed it is used a number of times in the Bible. It describes a state where communication and understanding are impossible, the state of the unregenerate.

            As to being abrasive, how do you warn a person they are about to fall off a cliff?

          • CliveM

            And your evidence for the affective ness of such an approach?

          • Martin

            Clive

            How would you preach the gospel?

          • CliveM

            Well I asked the question first!

            I certainly wouldn’t start by calling them a liar. I have yet to meet a single individual converted by such an approach.

          • Martin

            Firstly, It is God that converts the soul & nothing we say will will affect the mind of the sinner unless God is working. The first stage is that they must realise that they are a sinner before an angry God. That must happen before they know what they are saved from.

          • CliveM

            Well if it is God and nothing we say can help, then let’s try a constructive approach, where you engage instead of abuse.

          • Martin

            Clive

            It isn’t abuse.

          • CliveM

            Martin

            The fact that you can say that without being intentionally ironic shows how little you understand human nature. Indeed I would say it is as limited as your understanding of God as revealed by Jesus Christ in the Gospels.

          • Martin

            Clive

            Seems to me that you neither understand human nature or the gospel. To tell someone their state before a holy God is certainly not abusive but an act of mercy.

          • DanJ0

            You’re not preaching the gospel. However, you might bring more people to your religion if you followed the approach of Matthew 5:14-16.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            And what do you think the gospel is?

          • DanJ0

            I’ve referenced some of it for you. You’d do well to take my advice.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            Which means you haven’t a clue.

            Let’s start with the bad news:

            You are a sinner, under condemnation & sentence of death.

            Good news is:

            God offers you mercy.

            But, of course, if you won’t admit your guilt you’re not likely to seek the mercy.

          • Guest

            You are not really warning me at all, you’re using that peculiar dogma as a weapon. It’s just an attempt to annoy after that cosmology thread some time ago. This is why you play the broken record to me over and over. Dodo knows this and immediately took to doing it himself, thinking I actually get annoyed by it. In reality, I’ve simply written you off as a bit of a moron and as a religious nutter. In the unlikely event that you really do think you’re evangelising to me, you ought to consider just how successful you’ll be from that position.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            Of course I’m warning, you’re simply so busy pretending to yourself that God doesn’t exist that you treat any warning of God’s anger as if it comes from “a bit of a moron and as a religious nutter”.

            If God saves you you will be saved, without your cooperation.

          • DanJ0

            Where I live, I regularly get Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons calling to tell me of their religious beliefs. The JWs usually try to the open the conversation by trying to get me to agree that the world is a shit place rather than talking about sheol, and they presumably go away wondering why I wax lyrical about how amazing and beautiful I think the world is instead. The Mormons are usually handsome young American men trying to chat about their revelations rather than spirit prison, and they tend to go away feeling uncomfortable about my unusual keenness to keep them chatting. Unfortunately, I don’t get young Pakistani Muslim men calling around to talk about religion but no doubt if they did they’d tell me I was born a Muslim and need to revert back according to my fitrah. Obviously, you and they would disagree about which god my fitrah or sensus divinitatis tells me about, and presumably think that each other had made a terrible mistake in the claim to know god. It’s not hard to imagine why I would simply stand back and roll my eyes when looking at all the conflicting certainties about what god hypothesis is true, and what gods hypotheses are false.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            So which religion tells you that you are condemned, rightly so, yet mercy is on offer?

          • DanJ0

            Why would I care? I’m not buying anyone’s product, especially when I think it’s just snake oil. You’re delusional as far as I can see, and clearly a bit vicious with it too.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            You’ve already bought & snake oil is the least of your problems. Not only have you lost in your purchase, you’ve also acquired a debt you can never pay.

          • CliveM

            Actually I’m not sure he is. If it wasn’t for the fact it would be rude to suggest it, I would suspect Aspergers. I think he genuinely just doesn’t get it.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Admirable people, the Methodists. Plain living, sensible flannel underwear and a tea-totalling world view. There is much to be said for the Holy Imbecile…one thinks fondly of St Peter of Tatchell and the Blessed Caanan Banana. Time for hobnobs I think…

        • Martin

          Mrs Proudie

          Sadly the BBC have other ideas.

          If I may I will forgo the hobnobs since my waistline expands at the mere thought.

    • dannybhoy

      You’re quite right, but that was in the days when the Church believed its mission was to literally establish God’s Kingdom on earth and rule it on God’s behalf.
      There never was any scriptural mandate for that, only what was pinched from the Old Testament theocracy.

      • ” … that was in the days when the Church believed its mission was to literally establish God’s Kingdom on earth and rule it on God’s behalf.”

        Did the Church ever believe that, Danny? Didn’t it believe, then as now, that God rules, instructs and sanctifies His people through His Church? It also established temporal Kingdoms throughout Europe and gave them legitimacy and expected Kings to govern according to Christian principles.

        • dannybhoy

          I think that the medieval church grew as a result of its role as the official state religion of the Roman Empire.
          It moved from being the Church made up of the Persecuted to that of the Persecuting Church.
          To be kind one could argue that theology was a mishmash of Old and New Testament teaching, and very few people could actually read anyway.
          The Church did a lot of things that could never be squared with the basics of Christianity. To kill and torture people -especially Jews- because they would not convert or would not accept the teachings of the Church was a terrible thing to do in the Name of the Lord Jesus..
          Indulgences and holy relics, and Bishop’s palaces, and luxurious lifestyles don’t sit right with the teachings of our Lord.
          God doesn’t rule instruct and sanctify His people through His Church,
          He does it through the gracious working of the Holy Spirit on mens’ hearts and minds. He raises up leaders and pastors and teachers and evangelists to minister to His people. The Holy Spirit works in the Church, not necessarily through the Church and Holy renewal breaks out all over the place and all over the world.

          • prompteetsincere

            + John 17:17.

      • CliveM

        There is certainly biblical mandate that we should be creating Gods a Kingdom on earth here and now.

        • dannybhoy

          Okay yes, I accept that, but not in the way that the medieval Church tried to implement it.

    • Most people persecuted by the ‘Church’ were actually Christians.
      As soon as a Church gets political power, Christianity flies out of the window.
      That doesn’t mean that Christians can’t be politicians; we could certainly do with a Wilberforce or a Lord Shaftesbury today.
      Of course, if you want really first-rate persecutors you need a good atheist like Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Church goers in the UK feel persecuted when hear a sermon that challenges them!
    God have mercy on those who are truly persecuted.

  • Pubcrawler

    We are also adjured to pray for the persecutors (Matt. 5.44). That’s not so easy.

  • Paddy S

    Like Jesus, a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it (or them)….

  • Almighty and Everlasting God, in whose hand are the power and the government of every realm: look down upon and help the Christian people that the heathen nations who trust in the fierceness of their own might may be crushed by the power of thine arm.

    Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

  • len

    Bit late coming to this one but every day can and should be a day of prayer for the persecuted Church of Jesus Christ.
    Jesus warned that His followers would face persecution and that persecution has got immensely worse over the last century or so.
    Jesus was hated without a cause other than His Light shone into the darkness and the darkness hated the Light.

    The Cross of Jesus Christ is an offence to many as is His Gospel but it is also the Doorway to Salvation.