There are plenty of forces arrayed against Christianity, many of them working overtime to see its demise. There are never-ending challenges and threats to the Christian church from without. But sadly the greatest threat may come from within.
I refer to the widespread apathy and indifference of so many believers. While the church is besieged on every front, and losing battle after battle, how many Christians simply don’t know about the war they are in, or simply don’t even care?
It seems that if just ten per cent of Christians took their calling and responsibilities seriously, we could be seeing mighty things happening for the Kingdom. But sadly so many believers are effectively aiding and abetting the enemy. We are losing battle after battle by default.
It is hard to win a contest when you are not even involved in it. The other side keeps winning hands down. That is because so often they are facing no opposition. Many believers would rather spend countless hours a day playing games on Facebook than engage in prayer, spiritual warfare, fasting, and actually getting involved in the many battles of the day.
But God will see that his church does eventually triumph, and if need be, he is quite willing to bypass believers and use non-believers to accomplish his purposes. Jesus even spoke about this. He said that “the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light” (Luke 16:8).
And in Luke 19:40 we find these words: “I tell you, if they [the disciples] keep quiet, the stones will cry out”. God is able to raise up stones to get his message out. Two examples of this have occurred in the past few days. The first involves secular conservative commentator Andrew Bolt.
He was dealing with the smear campaign being launched against the Pope. Now I am not a Catholic. And neither obviously is Bolt. But he can smell an anti-Christian witch-hunt a mile away. Indeed, he often comes to the aid of Christians, when Christians themselves remain silent.
In his blog he offers a defence of the Pope who is being accused of a cover-up on child abuse. He cites Phil Lawler as to the actual facts in this case:
• Was Cardinal Ratzinger responding to the complaints of priestly pedophilia? No. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which the future Pontiff headed, did not have jurisdiction for pedophile priests until 2001. The cardinal was weighing a request for laicization of Kiesle.
• Had Oakland’s Bishop John Cummins sought to laicize Kiesle as punishment for his misconduct? No. Kiesle himself asked to be released from the priesthood. The bishop supported the wayward priest’s application.
• Was the request for laicization denied? No. Eventually, in 1987, the Vatican approved Kiesle’s dismissal from the priesthood.
• Did Kiesle abuse children again before he was laicized? To the best of our knowledge, No. The next complaints against him arose in 2002: 15 years after he was dismissed from the priesthood.
• Did Cardinal Ratzinger’s reluctance to make a quick decision mean that Kiesle remained in active ministry? No. Bishop Cummins had the authority to suspend the predator-priest, and in fact he had placed him on an extended leave of absence long before the application for laicization was entered.
• Would quicker laicization have protected children in California? No. Cardinal Ratzinger did not have the power to put Kiesle behind bars. If Kiesle had been defrocked in 1985 instead of 1987, he would have remained at large, thanks to a light sentence from the California courts. As things stood, he remained at large. He was not engaged in parish ministry and had no special access to children.
• Did the Vatican cover up evidence of Kiesle’s predatory behavior? No. The civil courts of California destroyed that evidence after the priest completed a sentence of probation – before the case ever reached Rome.
Another stone who has recently spoken up for Christians is the conservative Jewish writer, Melanie Phillips. She has just written a terrific piece outlining all of the anti-Christian bigotry which has been taking place lately in the UK. She then offers some wise words about where all this is headed:
“Under the guise of promoting ‘tolerance’ and ‘liberal’ social attitudes, anti-discrimination law is deeply intolerant and illiberal. That’s because it has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with ideology. It is innately on the side of minorities on the basis that they are by definition vulnerable to the majority. So in the hands of the judiciary, it has turned into a fearsome weapon against Britain’s mainstream attitudes and faith.
“The result is that Christianity is now in danger of being turned into a despised and marginalised creed practised only by consenting adults in private. Christians are already being forced into renouncing their religious beliefs if they want to remain in certain jobs. This is simply intolerable in a liberal society where freedom of religious conscience is a bedrock value.
“Yet while Christians find themselves under the legal cosh, a double standard is employed towards certain minority faiths. Thus a Christian nurse is told she can’t work with patients unless she removes her cross while Muslim NHS staff have been exempted from hygiene rules stipulating that their forearms must remain uncovered.
“The relentless message from the top of our society is that Christianity — the foundation-stone of Western liberty, tolerance and democracy — is intolerant, bigoted and objectionable in contrast to other faiths. Their own precepts may be truly inimical to liberty or reason, but to these we must not turn a politically correct hair.”
She concludes, “The highest echelons of both the Church and the judiciary seem incapable of grasping why Christianity is crucial to this country and has to be upheld and defended against attempts to undermine and destroy it, from wherever such attacks may come.”
Why is it that secularists and Jews can see the horrendous assaults on Christianity, and seek to do something about it, while so many Christians do not seem to know or care about any of this? Why in the world has the church become so spiritually and morally cold that God has to raise up non-Christians to fight the good fight?
If Christianity in the West one day soon finds itself to be totally obliterated or driven underground, we will mainly have ourselves to blame. Unless we wake up from our slumber, there will not be many more years left. I certainly won’t be writing this blog much longer if the church does not stir itself to action.
It seems only fitting to finish with the words of Jesus: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:15-17).