Persecution of the Church: Hot, Warm, Temperate
By Lon Allison
The third form of religious persecution is what I call sly and “temperate.” Most of the West falls into this category. In such areas, beneath the guise of religious tolerance, Christians are not overtly persecuted. Their meeting places are not closed; their lives are not at stake. Yet an insidious and demonic stupor represses believers. For instance, in my country, being a Christian is fine; however, being a fervent Christian is not. Often in such cultures, academia and media undermine Christian faith at nearly every turn.
One leading Christian stated that to talk about God at a party one time will result in sneers and turned backs. Talk about God a second time, and you will not be invited to the next party. This oppressive atmosphere shuts most Christian’s mouths when it comes to sharing faith as a way of life. We in the West try to adapt. We become educated and rich to gain approval. Or, we focus on deeds of compassion without accompanying verbal proclamation to be affirmed by the secular majority. Either approach makes Christian faith rather toothless and tasteless. I believe we in the West are perhaps most crippled when it comes to religious persecution, even though it is of only the temperate, but oh so sly, variety.
Join me in reading what the authors in this issue of LWP write about concerning Christian persecution. We need their instruction, and we need their courage. Our master declared that he was sending us out as sheep in the midst of wolves (Luke 10:3). He knew our plights; he faced them himself. But he also said, “…whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory” (Luke 9:26). Hot, warm, or temperate persecution is not the real issue. Our response as Christ followers is.
Dr. Lon Allison is executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. He also serves as director for the Institute for Strategic Evangelism at Wheaton College. He is co-publisher of Lausanne World Pulse.