The Offense of the Gospel in an Offended World

“Anchor Babies” offensive term debate

In 2015, we get to watch the United States gear up for quadrennial contest that ends up picking the leader of the free world. As I write this going into the fall of the year, there are at least 19 candidates in the race. Questions are being asked about sensitive topics, and people are being “offended” on cue. Just today, the 24-hour news channels are cackling about an “offensive term” that two candidates are using… Two opponents agree on using the same offensive phrase:  “Anchor Baby”. Trump and Bush explained themselves the same way: there was no better way to say what they had to say.

He Is God, And I Am Not
He Is God, And I Am Not

The truth is, for Christians, there is no better way to say it: Christ is Lord. It is the same message that the Bible is all about, and the same message that Christians have bled and died for for 2000-years. None of us can change it. It is the Good News, from the Source of all love.

Today’s news inspired this article. It is about how Christians, who have an offensive message to bring the world, have to bring that message into a ridiculously offended world. Understanding where we are today, and applying Scripture to it, will give us the peace of perseverance.

What’s So Offensive about the Source of All Love?

Admitting to sin is unpleasant
Admitting to sin is unpleasant

God so loved the world that he gave His own son to die to pay the debt for our sin. His resurrection and ascension prove our everlasting life. It is THE good news. Non-believers would prefer we not repeat the Good News. All Christians were there, before we were saved. If you admit to God, you have to admit to sin. To have a false comfort, human beings have to remain in denial, and reject Jesus…vociferously. Christians need a daily reminder to prepare themselves for living in a broken, sinful world. The default position of our world is one inclined toward sin, degradation and evil. The Apostle Paul explains to the Roman church,

Romans 5:12-13 (NLT)
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break.

john 14-16 17Unsaved, human beings are not embodied with the Holy Spirit. We do not have the spiritual equipment to see and know God. That “God talk” makes no sense, and listening to it is frustrating to the unequipped. Once saved, Christians have the Spirit living inside them. They are in a position to know and learn the spiritual world around them. They can see the sin, evil and death that is in the world, as well as God’s light, and His hand.

Romans 8:5-8 (NLT)
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

matt 15 18-20God loves every person that He has made, whether they are chosen or not. Without getting into theological hair-splitting, it is safe to say that this world is a proving ground for our choice to accept His invitation or reject Him. Accept Him or reject Him, we still receive his provision and His love during this testing time. He is also holy and sovereign, and just as He cannot allow evil in His presence, His will doesn’t accept the impurity and sinfulness of the world’s people. But people are prideful, arrogant, and self-centered by nature.

offenseAccepting a God that hates the prideful, arrogant and self-centered things we do is a tough pill to swallow. The Source of All Love is unchanging, we cannot horse-trade with Him, and we cannot put God in a box. All the things we try to do in our human relationships don’t apply in our relationship with God. Our pridefulness, self-centeredness and strong wills, while we can use them with humanity, are worthless toward God. We have to accept Him as He is. People find that very offensive.

What’s Different about Today?

We live in a society that has grown increasingly hostile toward God. In the 19th century, Europe had harbored, nurtured and exported their Enlightenment. Thinkers such as Locke, Montesquieu, and Paine popularized disdain toward the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, blaming institutional offenses of the state churches on the

The Indoctrination of Liberalism Continues
The Indoctrination of Liberalism Continues

Christian Faith. Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and others wedged relativistic theories of evolution and psychology into the mainstream of thought, as the academic world pushed further and further away from God. Today, there is open hostility to any mention of God in government and on college campuses, where atheistic groupthink dominates and dissent means the end of a career. Using the tool of Political Correctness, dissenting thought and speech is run out of academia and government.

For a further understanding of how secularly humanism slowly, progressively crushed people of faith out of academia and government, I invite you to see my previous article: How Did America Get So Morally Divided?

ferg10-760x506We also have an illegitimate Grievance Industry that has co-opted many of the tools of the legitimate, righteous dissent from the Civil Rights Movement. Following Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, this industry has honed its “shakedown” skills of creating discord for political and financial purposes. Now, much of the Western World has become savvy toward the monetization of “offense”, and genuine, actual, legitimate offense has lost its power. The Grievance Industry has diluted and spun the credibility out of legitimate offense and redress.

maxresdefaultThough neither hard sciences nor social sciences give any rational causation for homosexuality, at the behest of special interest groups, academia declared homosexuality “normal”. Suffice it to say, the Bible is abundantly clear that homosexuality is a sin, despite hollow attempts to spin Scripture for political gain. Homosexuality is a favorite wedge-issue of the academic left, because it creates an impossible binary choice between the liberal academic and God. This binary choice, and new laws criminalizing the religious liberty of Christians who follow the Bible’s teaching on homosexual activities and unions, creates a highly divisive hostility toward God. Now, belief in God can literally cost the believer the food on their plate.

Today, we have legitimate offense that is disempowered by the grievance industry, academic hostility to anything other than secular humanism, and the politicization and weaponization of homosexuality, all attacking Christians. Because of what is different today, Christians are actually in a better position than most realize.  Persecution has proven, through history, to strengthen the resolve of the church.

myths-of-persecution-1Having an offensive message in a society that loves to be offended is where our faith earned its “stripes” in the early days of the church. In the last half of the Third Century, Roman Emperor Decius declared Christianity to be an enemy of the state. He ordered that the leadership of the Christians be hunted down and arrested. If they wouldn’t recant their faith, they were executed. Decius’ strategy failed, as PBS Frontline reports.

The net effect of this is that a new cult of the martyrs appears in Christianity, which strengthens the church, which feeds on anti-government sentiment in many segments of the empire, – those remote geographical areas distant from Rome which have always been suspicious of Rome. This simply brings those into the Christian fold and in many ways, it backfires.*

We, the people, trust God far more than we trust the man-made, corrupt state. Persecution has ebbed and flowed, and today, the persecution is in the “flow-cycle”. In the states that incubated the early church, beheadings are now broadcast for the entire world to see. In the “civilized” world, the persecution is custom-fit for our society. John MacArthur of The Master’s Seminary explains,

Today, Satan usually directs persecution not to a person’s physical body, but to his ego. He focuses on pride, the desire for acceptance, or the desire for status. That’s very effective. Satan doesn’t often threaten a Christian by saying, “If you witness, I’ll cut your head off.” He threatens a believer by saying, “If you witness, you might lose your job, your status–or someone might think you are strange.”**

Ways-to-Cope-with-Someone-Who-Talks-about-You-behind-Your-BackPersecution is about “why”.  It is hate directed at you because you hold fast to your Christian faith.  You may be shunned, spoken ill of, or sued because you wouldn’t be forced to violate your faith.  God promises us eternal salvation, and there is love and support inside the community of your church.  As for trying to live without being persecuted for your faith, the answer is that the Word clearly teaches us to expect persecution. Accept it. Living your witness is the best way forward for the Christian. You will almost certainly, at some point, deal with persecution. We learn faith by dealing with and accepting the consequences of our faith. Perhaps, next to the crucifixion of Christ, one of the best lessons on this was taught by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, is son in the ministry:

2 Timothy 3:12-17 (NLT)
Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

For an in-depth, step-by-step guide to dealing with persecution, I invite you to see the Grace To You article by John MacArthur, How to Handle Persecution

Works Cited
MacArthur, John. “Grace To You – How to Handle Persecution.” gty.org. 8 22, 2015. http://www.gty.org/resources/study-guides/40-5116/how-to-handle-persecution (accessed 8 22, 2015).
Meeks, Wayne. “Frontline – The Martyrs.” pbs.org. 4 1, 1989. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/why/martyrs.html (accessed 8 22, 2015).

Just in today, Nepal criminalizes sharing one’s faith 

Nepal Religious Intolerance Law

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34 comments

    • As you linked my article, I would like to enter some facts for the record:

      1) The dictionary.com definition you link, and our conversation in the comments section of my “Offense of the Gospel” article, supports my case. Persecution is about hate, not numbers.

      2) Am I wrong to perceive that Anti-Christian commenters embarrass themselves when they use Westboro Baptist as representative of US Christians?

      Reality is that Westboro’s <40 person "congregation" is mostly family-members of the hate-group's founder, but are cited as representative of 224,000,000 U.S. Christians. Westboro is completely independent, and not affiliated with any organized denomination.

      All The Best to you and your readers.

  1. I’d say your definition of persecution is fairly large and non traditional. perhaps intended to redefine the term to include what you’d like to label with the word. but in the few times the other commenters have turned this around, using your own wide definition to include ‘persecution’ of gays and non Christians, you have shut them down or given unsatisfactory answers.
    you are a very intelligent man with multiple college degrees who does Christian counseling (assumedly psychological)… does this seem like a rational response to those questioning your use of the term, and applying it identically outside of your intended application?
    -mike

    • Thanks for the question. You may notice that Dr. John MacArthur, founder of The Master’s Seminary, is quoted and shares a similar view to mine. As for turning an argument around, can you give an example? Thanks.

      • appeal to authority… nice. and thanks, but no, I’m not interested in you parsing what I say and turning it around. I was making a comment, not inviting a discussion. thx again

      • nope. no chat required for a simple comment of observation. i’ll let you know if I have a question or want to chat. thx again. -mike
        by the way… you don’t do patronizing or passive aggressive well at all. it’s pretty obvious really. -mike

  2. I have an atheist friend living in one of the southern Bible Belt states. He finds it hard to get a job, despite his qualifications being equal to others, because he doesn’t go to church. Who’s being discriminated and persecuted against there? And struggling to put the food on his plate?

    • It works contrary to the gospel to reject non-believers on the basis that they don’t accept Christ. They are the Jerusalem of the Great Commission.

      Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

      It seems unlikely that being a non-believer is the reason this person isn’t getting a job from any employer. I have no idea what all is in play.

      I will say I have worked as a manager hiring people for a company owned by people of deep Christian faith. Had they found I used faith as a litmus test for hiring I would have been the one looking for a job. Serious business people have no time to deal with that nonsense.

      • I’m not talking about your morals regarding hiring. Or firing. But when we are discussing teaching and the preference for teaching biblical history instead of science then perhaps religion might come into play?

      • I’m talking about the teaching of science, ie evolution not biblical creation in a few days, and straight history, not the history of Christianity, that can come under religion or possibly firm a part of a general history syllabus.

      • I’m sure we will disagree, but I believe both should be taught, conflicts and all. There are obviously strong opinions on both sides. Neither deserves to be silenced.

      • I’m sure we will disagree, but I believe both should be taught, conflicts and all.”

        Are you talking about what should be taught as science in the science classroom?

      • If you are going to teach the evolution hypothesis, you certainly need to teach creation. And, not that you would, but please don’t regurgitate the talking points.

      • “If you are going to teach the evolution hypothesis, you certainly need to teach creation.”

        Creation? Or the creation hypothesis?

        Why teach “creation” in the science classroom? It’s an appropriate subject for a comparative religion class, but shouldn’t science classrooms be used to teach science?

        Trust me, you really don’t want science teachers to examine young earth creationism, in particular, in the science classroom.

        (Just curious, since the topic of the post is “persecution,” if a science teacher doesn’t teach creationism, do you consider this a form of persecution?)

        “And, not that you would, but please don’t regurgitate the talking points.”

        What is the “talking point” that is being regurgitated?

      • There is creation-science curriculum.
        I would expect an unbiased approach to the material by the teachers.
        Failing to teach the parallel curriculum would be considered dereliction.
        Talking points:
        Creation isn’t science. – If that is true, then evolution isn’t science if you do an honest comparison.
        Keep your religion in your church house.
        What about the other religions?
        And a few dozen more…

        All that said, David, I am not a scientist or a pedagogist. I am a minister and counselor. I prefer to stick to my specialties. The articles I post come from counseling sessions, ministry encounters, today’s headlines and other areas where Christians are applying their faith. Having a biblical perspective on the events of the day is useful discipleship reading for my Christian brothers and sisters. That is pretty much what my blog is all about.

      • “I would expect an unbiased approach to the material by the teachers.”

        Then YEC would be crushed, and anyone in the class who held YEC views would be humiliated. Is that what you’d want your kids or congregants to hear at school?

        “Failing to teach the parallel curriculum would be considered dereliction.”

        Teaching creationism would be a “dereliction.”

        Again, just out of curiosity, when YEC isn’t taught in science classrooms, is this what you mean by “persecution?” And what if a teacher or professor is fired for teaching that the earth is old? Is that persecution?

        “Talking points: Creation isn’t science.”

        Call it what you wish.

        YEC relies on supenatural events and divine intervention. That’s not science, and the YEC doesn’t belong in a science classroom. It’s that simple.

        “All that said, David, I am not a scientist or a pedagogist. I am a minister and counselor. I prefer to stick to my specialties.”

        Ok, that’s fine. I only addressed the science question, because the issue had already appeared in the comment thread. I wasn’t trying to start a digression.

        You used the phrase “evolution hypothesis.” Just wondering, is “creation” an hypothesis, too?

      • Thanks for sharing. I think you bring up valid questions that need to be answered. An M-RE would be better qualified to answer you, if you can find one. Thought about that program, but had two master’s programs working already. I may research the topic at some point in the future. You had one question, that I am qualified to answer.

        Creation is not a hypothesis. I am an inerrantist, as are most conservative ministers. The Bible is settled. It is published, known and accepted. We could go through a series of challenges and answers, but I don’t think it would inform much.

        I do appreciate your commenting. You may find a question unanswered or answered short. When I have time, I will do my best to get back to you. Feel free to read any of the posts on this site, and comment as you see fit. And thank you for being civil. All the best!

      • “Creation is not a hypothesis.”

        Thanks for addressing the question. I think your answer should explain to you why creation isn’t taught in the science classroom.

      • My answer didn’t deserve dismissiveness and a superior attitude. You’ve backed up your position with your opinion, and nothing more. I gave you the right answer, and it was left open on purpose. The simpler answer would not have left the door open for the critics of the past 150 years or so. There was a rash of liberalism that scholars have been working through since the Freud, Darwin and other hypotheses emerged. Funny, science has discredited a lot of their positions. Christian scholarship experienced a divide along liberal and conservative lines. A liberal would not make any argument for teaching creation, as they tend to have a moderate to low view of Scripture. Conservatives tend toward a high view of Scripture, and would be inclined to advocate for creation taught exclusively. Yes, there are more conservative folks than I.

      • “My answer didn’t deserve dismissiveness and a superior attitude.”

        My apologies. I did not intend to come across as either dismissive or as having a superior attitude. I should have been clearer about what I meant.

        This is what I mean. Science is about testable hypotheses. If creation is not an hypothesis, that is, if it’s not subject to disproof by hypothesis testing, then it doesn’t qualify as science, and does not belong in a science classroom. Note that I’m only talking about what is taught in a science classroom.

        I’d be glad to offer far more than “opinion,” but it was my impression that you did not want to get into an in depth discussion. Since the Bible is “settled,” I assumed that you didn’t really want anything more from me. If I misunderstood, let me know, and I will explain my position in more depth.

      • I do agree with David. I think it is unrealistic to expect a religious view of the world dominate classrooms, whether science, history, philosophy, politics or whatever. The whole point of schooling and education is to teach children facts, and importantly, to think critically.
        While religion may be your way of life, your religion should be taught in specific classes, not as a parallel view of the universe. Otherwise, one should be teaching the world view of every single religion in the world in science and history classes. How feasible is that?

      • Actually, on the direction of this thread, I think you’re right. It really isn’t my field. But feel free to comment elsewhere. I plan on posting about Josh Duggar and Civil Disobedience soon.

        Enjoyed the conversation.

  3. How do you reckon you’re being persecuted in a nation where over 70% of the population identifies as Christian? And if snide remarks count as persecution, then gays and non-believers are the most persecuted minority groups in the USA.

    • Ron, you’ll find I’m not pro-persecution for anyone. Even people I strongly disagree with, I still love. People who identify as homosexual or atheist shouldn’t be persecuted, nor should they have the right to abridge the rights of others.

      • I always read articles before commenting on them. I’m wondering about what principle would justify classifying snide comments as persecution.

        If that’s true, would it mean any snide comments are persecution, or are they just snide comments made at Christians?

      • Persecution is about hate toward a class of people. Some people hate a race, so they might not frequent their business, or might threaten them, or they might burned down the business. The “why” is what qualifies it.

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