Christians Can’t Trust Chariots or Horses


The people of God seem always to struggle with exactly how to relate to powerful governments. Israel hated her slavery in Egypt under Pharaoh, but promptly wanted to go back to Egypt after landing in the wilderness. At least in Egypt she could have melons. This longing to go back to Egypt and trust in her chariots and horses haunted Israel of old. Thus, the prophet Isaiah later warned (Isaiah 30),

Christians Under Pressure Persecution1“Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the LORD,

            “Who execute a plan, but not Mine,

            And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit,

            In order to add sin to sin;

      2Who proceed down to Egypt

            Without consulting Me,

            To take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh

            And to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!

      3“Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame

            And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation.

When the cultural vessel of our existence becomes pressurized by the heat of persecution or political oppression, faith will rise like the steam of boiling water seeking the quickest, most natural outlet. The question for us is what is most natural? Where does our faith rise? What is our outlet under pressure? Two recent responses to the crisis in Mosul, Iraq have me thinking about this question.

On the one hand, there has been a call from the Italian Bishops Conference to pray for the persecuted church.  And, on the other hand, there has been a sizable protest in Australia specifically on behalf of Christians in Iraq. Without being critical or cynical, we might clarify what is our faithful response to the crisis of Christian persecution in Iraq and around the world.

In Italy, the bishops have drafted a plea for the Church throughout Europe to pray on behalf of suffering saints around the world. The statement is powerful in its indictment of slothfulness concerning our suffering sisters and brothers:

‘If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him ‘(Rom 6:8). These are words that we should also shake the conscience of our Europe, which has become distracted and indifferent, blind and dumb to the persecution which today has claimed hundreds of thousands of Christian victims”.

While the document rightly focuses attention on Christians in Iraq and Nigeria—two of the absolute worst places for Christians right now—it perhaps wrongly appeals for Christian action on the basis of human rights, history, and culture.  From the Italian bishops,

Faced with such an attack on the foundations of civilization, human dignity and human rights, “we cannot remain silent. The West cannot continue to look the other way, under the illusion of being able to ignore a humanitarian tragedy that destroys the values ​​that have shaped it…

This statement is not at all false. In fact, Christians must engage culture and improve (like salt and light) the civilization in which it exists. Yet, Christians must own as first priority the fame of Christ and the spread of His kingdom. Our appeals, then, should first be for Christ’s reputation instead of western values. While we can and should join as cobelligerents with the Italian bishops advocating for aid on the basis of a “humanitarian tragedy,” we must pray for Christ to be exalted through the witness of His faithful saints. We must pray that our suffering sisters and brothers would hold fast to that which has been given to them because Christ is coming quickly and bringing his reward to those whose garments are not stained with the sin of the surrounding society.

While Christians should advocate politically for religious freedom for all, we should also remind each other to recognize the difference between Christian persecution Mosul Iraqreligious freedom and persecution. The Constitution speaks of religious freedom; the New Testament speaks of persecution. One is a human right, the other a divine blessing.

As Christians continue to feel the pressure of persecution in Nigeria and Iraq, the steam of faith should rise up through the prayers of believers to Christ in heaven.  Our hope is anchored there, in Him—not in America’s chariots or the U.N.’s horses—not in Europe’s civilized past nor in the present “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who lives to make intercession for us.

(To be continued…)

3 Ways to Stand for Religious Liberty without Falling for a Political Agenda 

The Difference Between Religious Freedom and Persecution

Why Christians Must Fight for Religious Liberty

What Should We Think About Stories of Slaughtered Christians in Syria?


Politically, it would be easy to find fault with some of the decisions being made in our foreign policy.  Many politicians have in fact been critical of President Obama, calling for more serious action to be taken in Assyria (Joe Lieberman and John McCain are but two examples).

Indeed, many websites are quickly seizing on opportunities to criticize the Obama Administration. Below, I offer you just one example from the stories on Christian persecution which call us to caution on Syria.

Christians are being wiped out in Syria.  They are being targeted specifically for destruction.  But who is targeting them?

According to some reports, troops supported by the Obama Administration are responsible for the annihilation of Christians in Homs.  However, almost all of the reports coming out of the area are tied to only two sources: Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos or Mother Agnes Miriam of the Cross.  The former’s credibility as a Catholic spokesman has been questioned and the latter is known as an apologist for the Assad regime.

CNN offers a good description of the scene along with the admission that it is not possible for them to verify any of the reports they have received because of the restrictions the government has put on reporting and foreign press.

At the end of it all, it seems impossible right now for us to know what is happening in Syria through traditional news sources.  The only thing we know for sure is that Christians are being slaughtered—all accounts agree on this grim point.  There is just no way to know who exactly is doing the slaughtering.

Catholic Clarification


I saw a news article yesterday stating that 59,000 nuns joined together to support the Obama health care plan, which had been opposed by U.S. bishops because of its funding of abortions.  Well, today, Kathryn Jean Lopez sets the record straight for Roman Catholics.  According to this blog post from KJL, the number of signatories in opposition was a mere 55, with one of the signatories voting twice.  It appears that a much larger number of nuns is on the other side of this one–on the side of life and thus opposed to federal funding of abortion.