Enabling Our Enemies and Empowering Our Persecutors

Just how should believers respond to persecution?

Hmm, some things are worth writing about – and often. The rise and rise of anti-Christian bigotry, hatred and discrimination in the West in general is one such topic. So too is the ruthless hounding out of a job by bedevilled Christophobes in particular.

As such, this is now my fourth piece in two days on the terrible case of injustice and woke McCarthyism that Andrew Thorburn has just been through. The new CEO of the Essendon footy club was only there for a matter of hours before the misotheists and secular left bigots drove him from his job. Just in case you still do not know what I am referring to, have a look at the three previous pieces:

billmuehlenberg.com/2022/10/04/gasp-they-actually-hired-a-christian/

billmuehlenberg.com/2022/10/04/the-worlds-quickest-case-of-christophobia-in-action/

billmuehlenberg.com/2022/10/05/the-new-mccarthyism/

What I want to discuss here are the various responses Christians have had to his so quickly stepping down. Some have been quite critical of him, arguing that he should have stood up to the bullies and not caved in so easily and so quickly. Others have said he did the right thing, and was brave to put his church ahead of his job.

For what it is worth, out of my three articles I only wrote one line on my views on this matter. As I said in my second piece: “While I think he should have stayed and fought this blatant anti-Christian bigotry and hatred, it is up to him to decide which way to proceed.”

That discussion will undoubtedly continue. And it raises bigger issues for the believer. For example, when persecution comes, how should we respond? Should we stay and fight or should we just give up and flee? I have discussed this before, as in this piece: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/11/07/fight-or-flight/

As I state in that and other articles, the Bible gives us cases of believers going with various options. Sometimes they would just leave when persecution came around. Sometimes they would stay and take what was happening to them. And sometimes – where possible – they would even seek to stand up for their rights, and make some sort of legal appeal. So all three can be viable biblical options.

Returning to the path that Thorburn took, I guess I tend to side with those who think he should have stuck it out a bit more and put up more of a fight. While I realise it may be easy for me to make someone else into a martyr for the cause, and he hopefully did what he felt was best, there are at least two bad outcomes of his decision.

One, this will certainly embolden the Christophobes. When they see how easy it is to get some big Christian leader to step down, that will just be further energised to keep up the witch-hunts. ‘Great, we got rid of him so easily – now let’s go after all those other pesky Christians.’ So he may have just provided some real encouragement to his – and our – foes.

And two, many other believers may waver in their commitment to stand strong. Had Thorburn perhaps hung in there, that may well have stiffened the spines of other Christians. But by seemingly caving in so quickly and not even putting up a fight, this may deter other believers from standing strong. They may end up raising the white flag of surrender as well.

I have long said that believers need to grow a backbone and learn how to stand for their beliefs, even if costly. We have too many spineless wonders among us, and we capitulate far too easily. I am not saying this is what Thorburn may have done, but I see it far too often in our churches.

And I have also said plenty of times that the approach of some Christians to just try to be nice, to smile a lot, and be winsome does not really cut it either. Sure, we remain polite and so on, but just hoping that if we are really nice and friendly the other side will leave us alone is a pipe-dream. The more easily we are intimidated, bullied and pushed around, the more they will do this to us.

So we need real wisdom and discernment here as to how we should proceed in these dark days. And some bits of counsel from our leaders can be better – or worse – than others. Consider what one such leader just said on the social media: “I’d be taking sermons offline into the future if I were a pastor committed to biblical preaching. Just for the sake of those in your congregation who might lose their jobs through guilt by association.”

While the fellow who said this is normally a solid and conservative Christian, I find this bit of advice to be far from helpful. It really does seem to be a counsel of surrender. Indeed, will folks like this next suggest that sermons first get checked out by the state, to keep us safe and secure? Self-censorship is NOT the way to proceed here.

And if the main concern is to keep folks from losing their jobs, then they should probably just ditch their Christianity altogether! Being an outspoken Christian has always been costly. Many have not just lost their jobs but their very lives. Seeking to tone things down and play it safe so we can hang on to our careers is not exactly the advice the prophets, Jesus or the disciples would have given.

They said the exact opposite. They said we should be willing to lose everything for the sake of the gospel. And millions have over the centuries. Now is not the time for words of surrender or compliance. Now is the time to hear about the great need for brave, bold and fearless followers of Christ.

As my friend Ben Davis just wrote about this matter:

Dear pastors, do not follow the advice of cowards urging you to hide Jesus from the world. Do not treat us as though we haven’t counted the cost of following Christ. Our brothers have taken the Gospel into harder places, and they were willing to suffer more than the “top job.” The enemy wants you to retreat, not God. The enemy wants you to fear, not God. The enemy wants you to value your career more than the truth, not God. Surrendering at this point not only empowers the enemy, it demoralises the church. Double down on the truth and we’ll have your backs!

“We are able to overcome it!” (Num. 13:30)

Amen to that. As to Thorburn, let’s keep him and his family in our prayers. And we all need to think and pray real hard as to what WE will do as the days get darker, as the persecution ramps up, and as the Christophobia reaches new, demonic levels in the West.

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23 Replies to “Enabling Our Enemies and Empowering Our Persecutors”

  1. Hello
    In a world that has rejected Christ it is easy to become angry at the persecutors. It does not change anything and can bring bitterness.
    The reality is that according to the teachings of Christ these people are on the broad road that leads to destruction. They can’t help themselves and for some there may be little to no hope of helping them find the narrow path that leads to salvation.
    Many do not even believe there is anything after death. In this I pity them.
    When persecution comes, our dependency on God is revealed. We need to seek God and find out what He would like us to do. It may be to stay but it may make a bigger statement to leave.
    As for the persecutors, I fear for them because there are many who are crying out to God for justice because of what they have done. God’s justice may come slowly but it will come. How terrible for them to fall into the hands of God.

  2. The wake up call for Christians. Time to stand up, because we are in a war, a spiritual battle.

  3. Victorian Premier Dan Andrews recently claimed [or at least inferred] that excluding people like Andrew Thorburn from public profile positions was necessary to supposedly prevent homosexual youth from above average [4 or 5 times higher] suicide rates. Similar claims were made by Peter Fitzsimons during the Israel Folau controversy.

    My current understanding is that there is apparently no correlation between homosexual youth suicides and the homosexual friendliness of the society they are in (or at least in the Western world).

    And more importantly, homosexual practice is apparently sometimes or often co-morbid with other mental health issues or unresolved traumas (which may well be the real cause for homosexual suicides) for which embracing celibacy (often misrepresented as ‘gay conversion therapy’) has for many former homosexuals been of real benefit.

    Are there any links to articles or studies available for which the above points can be defended in greater detail and depth against claims that banning Christians from employment is necessary to save homosexual lives?

  4. Thanks Mary. Well just to the right of my comment is an image of my book Strained Relations. In it I discuss these matters in great detail and with plenty of references.

  5. Is not Daniel Andrews guilty of inciting religious hatred? Unlikely to be prosecuted by the Victorian Stasi of course but he must surely know what the scriptures say about these matters.

  6. Thank you Bill for your 4 posts on this issue. I recently finished term 3 at a State school employed as a temporary teacher. I tried hard to ignore the horror of what the kids are being taught and to be as boring and non committal as possible, but unfortunately some of my conservative values and expectation of disciplined bahaviour slipped through. After being called to explain myself to the principal a number of times, it was made clear to me that I am not welcome back. It was the first time I have felt that I am not wanted because of my conservative values. How should one respond?
    As for Thorburn, his response of quitting may be more powerful than seems. It is causing a level of introspection amongst the community and it is interesting watching Essendon’s and AFL’s head goons trying to maintain face whilst their hypocrisy is glaring. Except of course the evil fool Dan Andrews who said “I can’t tolerate that kind of thinking”, whilst defending tolerance. The mind boggles at his level of ‘double think’.
    In any case, I’m glad that Thorburn is not stating his own position, the left will find a way to attack him regardless of what he says. He should remain silent and let the bigots continue speculating. One of the AFL goons even tried to blame Thorburn for not stating his views before taking his position. Since when is there an expectation to roll our your views when applying for a job?
    I’m considering testing it. Randomly ringing for a job advertised and slipping into the conversation, “I’m a Christian, am I allowed to apply for this job?”
    And walking into a store and asking “I’m a Christian, am I allowed to shop here?”
    I wonder what kind of responses I’d get?

  7. I’m conflicted on this because on one hand — as evil as these people are — yelling at them won’t change their thinking. Jesus did tell us to love our enemies, pray for them, turn the other cheek…
    At the same time we can’t just ignore what’s happening. I think we have to speak the truth in love rather than get into an argument

  8. Thanks Bryan. Yes, although no one here is talking about yelling at people. Speaking the truth in love is of course the way to go, but that DOES include argumentation in the proper sense of the word (debate, discussion, trying to reason with your opponents, dealing with their questions and objections, etc) which is something we find throughout Scripture. It is called apologetics, and something that we all must engage in (see 1 Peter 3:15 eg). And we must be mindful of the fact that if we really love others, telling them the truth is absolutely essential – truth they may not want to hear! So confronting these folks IS our Christian duty, just as Wilberforce confronted and argued with the evil slave traders, or Bonhoeffer confronted and challenged the evil Nazis and their supporters, and so on.

  9. Because of the controversy why is it necessary to have a LGBTQI+ round? What have they done for football or the community?

  10. Two things:

    1) after reading the Gaynor article I think one can truly question his faith since he said he came to Jesus 20 years ago, that would be 2002, and his stuff as CEO of that company was much later. A Christian couldn’t do that. That’s some VERY ROTTEN fruit to come from a Christian!

    2) there are people who are great at what they do but can’t do other things. There are people who are EXCELLENT trainers who wouldn’t last 1 round in the ring. Some Christians are like that too. We’re good at teaching or preaching or helping you grow in your faith or spread the word but we aren’t fighters. Some of us have weaknesses the enemy can exploit of skeletons the enemy can use against use. We have but little strength. So warfare in the public eye is more than we can handle.

    It is one thing to be on a computer fighting for Christ we aren’t in harm’s way except for what satan does to us behind the scenes. But out in public it can be so much harder to be the hero. It isn’t like Christians SEEK OUT these encounters hoping to be made a example of by the left so they can be martyrs or champions. More and more ordinary Christians are THRUST into these situations and many are ill prepared for warfare to become champions others simply never will be. We can fight off a few people but when entire army divisions come after you from all sides we are not able to withstand.

    OUR inability to stand up to overwhelming force should have no bearing of other Christians standing. Some Christians can take on divisions and be fine. It isn’t they have MORE FAITH than us or we are FAITHLESS it is they are made for such battles and we are not. Forcing Christians to go through battles they aren’t equipped for, and may never be, could do more harm to their faith. Of course chastising them for NOT going through a battle they weren’t equipped for could also harm their faith greatly.

    Another thing to point out would be we never know the situation fully. Could God tell a believer NOT to fight it and just resign??? Or could a person be protecting their church choosing God over job and resigning rather than fighting and bringing the mobs full fury down on his church over a extended period of time???? There’s also family concerns. Sometimes people have children, pre-K to 6th or 7th grade, and don’t wish to have them harassed or injured (or worse). Adults know what we’re choosing but kids didn’t choose to be a part of spiritual warfare so that’s a consideration many may take into account. Not saying ANY OF THIS last paragraph applies to Thorburn but to Christians in general who might not fight things.

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