The Silence of the Lambs (6)

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Image and caption of the BBC report quoted below.

A Timely and Tragic Confirmation

For anyone who suspected that I’ve been exaggerating or am being overly-dramatic about Christian persecution note that none other than the government of the United Kingdom has confirmed my position.  In fact, their commentary on this issue is significantly more extreme than has been mine thus far.  Here’t the BBC report titled: Christian persecution ‘at near genocide levels‘ (emphasis added):

The review, led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution.
Christians were the most persecuted religious group, it found.  Mr Hunt said he felt that “political correctness” had played a part in the issue not being confronted.

The interim report said the main impact of “genocidal acts against Christians is exodus” and that Christianity faced being “wiped out” from parts of the Middle East.
It warned the religion “is at risk of disappearing” in some parts of the world, pointing to figures which claimed Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5% of the population, while in Iraq they had fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000.
“Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity,” the Bishop wrote.

The report itself has this to say about Christian persecution in the Middle East.

Regional Focus: Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

The persecution of Christians is perhaps at its most virulent in the region of the birthplace of Christianity – the Middle East & North Africa (MENA for short). As mentioned earlier, forms of persecution ranging from routine discrimination in education, employment and social life up to genocidal attacks against Christian communities have led to a significant exodus of Christian believers from this region since the turn of the century.

Regional Focus: South Asia

To the east of the MENA region lie countries with a diversity of majority religions. In nearly all of these there is routine discrimination against Christians which has crossed over into outright persecution in recent years.

Numerous other regional areas are covered, each with its own unique set of religious, cultural and ideological issues that lead to varying levels of Christian persecution.

christian-persecution-1Note that this report also supports my contention that “political correctness” is a key reason that Christians in the West have abandoned their brothers and sisters in Christ to their fates.    Let’s be clear: if true this means that Christians in the West value their own social standing far higher than the actual lives of Christians throughout the world.  I believe that this is at least in part true, and that it is a shameful consequence of our purposeful ignorance and selfish need for social affirmation by a godless secular culture.

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The Silence of the Lambs (4)

Religious Hatred Here and There

How can we place the following statistics on worldwide Christian persecution into perspective?

  • 3,066 killed;
  • 1,252 abducted;
  • 1,020 raped or sexually harassed;
  • 793 churches attacked or destroyed.

After all, aren’t we in the United States bombarded with media reports claiming that, particularly in the “Age of Trump,” our society is saturated with religious hatred that manifests itself in hate crimes?  Were that claim found to be true then we would have no moral right to point our finger at others.

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2017 FBI Hate Crime Data

It turns out that, so concerned is our federal government about the occurrence of hate crimes that the FBI has been directed to collect and publish data in this area.  The FBI publishes this data on an annual basis, the most recent year being 2017.  Thus it is easy to find and assess the level of hate crimes across many years and for many groups including religious, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, etc.

The following figure shows the total number of murders, rapes and arsons identified as motivated by hate against Muslims in the United Stated between 2008 and 2017. Note that so unheard of is abduction motivated by hate that there is no category for this crime.

FBI-Hate-Muslims

The results are likely surprising to some readers.  Please keep in mind that these are results across our entire nation of 320 million inhabitants.  Some of my observations are:

  • The hate crime statistics against Muslims are identical between the year of Obama’s 2008 “hope and change” Presidential campaign and Trump’s 2016 “make America great again” campaign (i.e. 0 murders, 0 rapes and 5 arsons);
  • In the ten years covered not a single rape occurred against a Muslim due to hate in the entire United States;
  • In the ten years covered six murders occurred against a Muslim due to hate in the entire United States, which is well less than one per year on average;
  • In the first year of Trump’s Presidency there were zero murders, rapes and arsons against Muslims due to hate, a result that never occurred during Obama’s Presidency.

What can we conclude but that, in spite of massive Progressive propaganda to the contrary, the United States is an exceedingly tolerant country?  Yes, we are deluged with accusations of Islamophobia, but the actual hate crime data shows the opposite.  The reason for this falsehood’s persistence is that any criticism of the Muslim faith or of some Muslim individuals and organizations is attributed to Islamophobia.  In other words, the Progressives have placed Muslims outside the realm of criticism by designating any concern about their religion or behavior as a kind of mental illness.

And yet Progressives criticize, mock, condemn and yes, hate Christians on a massive scale without being accused of “Christaphobia.”  I must ask, from the Progressive multicultural perspective are only Western Civilization, Christianity and Judaism capable of sin?  Were we to examine the history of Islam, Hinduism, etc. would we find only sweetness and light in their past and present?  Are the past and present for all countries and ethnic groups outside of Western Civilization beyond reproach, beyond criticism?  The apparent Progressive multiculturalist answer is YES!

So, when we note that thousands of Christians are murdered, abducted and raped throughout the world because of their faith we in the United Stated do have moral standing to care and criticize.  For, if the religious tolerance that exists in the United States were replicated throughout the world the number of hate crimes against all people for all reasons would be massively reduced.

Yes, we are far from perfect.  Yes, we sin in a many ways.  Yes there are many and deep reasons to criticize our nation.  But for goodness sake, why can’t we acknowledge and celebrate that a level of tolerance has been achieved here that enables human flourishing at a remarkable level?

We can and must.  For to do otherwise is to become complicit in the Progressive multiculturalist lie that only the West, Christianity and Judaism are capable of sin.  All other religious, ethnic and country peoples are presumed to be either incapable of or justified in their sinful acts.  We Christians have doubly no excuse for supporting this lie.

as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)

Am I saying that because Western Civilization is more tolerant then it must be more righteous than all others?  Not at all.  For the righteousness of which the Apostle Paul speaks is the perfect righteousness demanded by God.  As is well said by R.C. Sproul:

Good is a relative term. It is defined against some standard. If we establish what that standard is, we can congratulate ourselves and take comfort in our attainment of it. But if God establishes the standard, and His standard includes outward behavior (that our actions conform perfectly to His law) and internal motivation (that all our acts proceed from a heart that loves Him perfectly), then we quickly see that our pretended “goodness” is no goodness at all. We then understand what Augustine was getting at when he said that man’s best works are nothing more than “splendid vices.”

There are aspects of Western Civilization in which we are far worse than others, with abortion being a particularly shameful and stark example.  But there are other areas, such as religious tolerance, where we have achieved far better results.  We must not denigrate our successes because in other areas we have failed.

Thus we should in clear conscience and loud voice speak up for out brothers and sisters in Christ who are experiencing brutal persecution.  While so doing we must also look at ourselves and recognize that there is great sin at work in the West as well.  But it is inherently unjust and unsustainable to apply one standard to ourselves and another to anyone else.

iBooks Publish Announcement: God’s Acts of Providence

I have published my third eBook on iBooks.  If you have an iOS device then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on my blog using this link.

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God’s Acts of Providence

The Christian doctrines associated with God’s providential acts have fallen so out of favor that their rehabilitation seems unlikely.  And yet if these doctrines are found to be true then there is no alternative but to make the attempt.  I am here seeking to reintroduce providential doctrine through examination of its practical working out in the lives of frail human flesh and blood.  By so doing they can be transformed from stiff, abstract concepts into humane, living precepts through which we can grow more deeply in love with the Triune God.  We can also begin to recapture the Christian confidence that no matter the darkness our great God is yet in control, working out His plan to ultimately redeem this fallen world.  And that God has chosen in sovereign mercy to incorporate our lives and associated wills into this great work of redemption.

Full Preface

The Christian doctrines associated with God’s providential acts have fallen so out of favor that their rehabilitation seems unlikely.  And yet if these doctrines are found to be true then there is no alternative but to make the attempt.  As I believe that they are indeed true, this work seeks to rediscover and reinstate these doctrines within Christian belief.

However, it will be difficult to deliver a compelling case if no account is taken as to just why these doctrines have fallen into disfavor.  The reason assumed by many orthodox Reformed believers is that they so bruise human pride that they fall onto deaf ears.  While there is great truth in this explanation it falls far short of completeness.

A second, and equally debilitating problem is the way that Reformed theologians have discussed these doctrines.  Far too often there is such an overwhelming emphasis placed on God’s sovereignty that we frail humans seem to disappear.  Christian believers are thus abandoned to figure out for themselves how they fit into God’s providential economy.  And, particularly in this case, the lack of clear, compelling theological guidance leaves believers vulnerable to the siren song of works-based salvation theology.

Finally, there is a temptation towards pride for those who have accepted the orthodox Reformed doctrinal positions.  That being, they come to believe that their minority status is a consequence of their intellectual achievement of having discerned God’s truth in Scripture.  Yes, the temptation of pride is universal.  However, for the orthodox Reformed it is particularly discrediting.  This is because the central consequences for humans who have been saved only by God’s mercy are humility and thankfulness.  So, when Christians see the exact opposite the result is usually rejection.

How then to rediscover and explain God’s acts of providence?  The only authoritative resource from which to work is God’s Word.  However, to simply reexamine the relevant Bible verses in isolation would surely be a superfluous exercise.

But there is another way.  If God’s providential engagement is true, then we would expect to find evidence of its operation deeply embedded throughout all Scripture.  That is, although there are indeed many passages that explicitly teach providential doctrines, they should also be revealed by God’s character as He engages with the world in general, and human beings in particular.

I have found this to be true, and here am seeking to reintroduce providential doctrine through detailed, sustained examination of its practical working out in the lives of frail human flesh and blood.  Although there are dozens of compelling cases I have chosen three:

  1. Abraham and Sarah (The Chief End of Man)
  2. The birth of Christ’s Church (The Church Invisible)
  3. The creation of the Apostle Paul (Effectual Calling)

Clearly much of the material in these stories is not directly related to providence.  However, the providential engagement of God undergirds the narratives and regularly breaks out into clear view.

By this means I contend that the argument can be advanced inoculated from the temptations previously discussed.  For example it is virtually impossible to lose sight of the human side of these engagements when the protagonists are so deeply, humanely and intimately treated.  Nor are we likely to fall into elitism when confronted with the harsh realities and heroic faith exhibited by these humble servants of God.

But the primary advantage is the opportunity to observe these admittedly difficult doctrines being weaved into the lives of real people.  By so doing they can be transformed from stiff, abstract concepts into humane, living precepts through which we can grow more deeply in love with the Triune God.  We can also begin to recapture the Christian confidence that no matter the darkness or danger our great God is yet in control, working out His plan to ultimately redeem this fallen world.  And that God has chosen in sovereign mercy to incorporate our lives and associated wills into this great work of redemption.

In Meditations on God’s Providence I will explicitly discuss doctrine.  My hope is that this meditation will be organically supported by the previous three examinations of the relationships between God and His chosen people.

Only the reader can judge the extent of my success.  However, even though I will surely fall far short of the mark, it’s my hope that others with greater knowledge and skill will recognize an alternative strategy by which core Christian doctrines can be reintroduced, explained and integrated into Christian life.

Make no mistake, the need for this work is great and growing.

Building a Caring Christian Community

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Christ Healing Peter’s Mother-In-Law, by John Bridges

Recently a friend whose family has experienced long term health challenges voiced disappointment with the ensuing lack of social support.  Wrapped within this disappointment was a negative critique of religion.

They have without doubt experienced terrible pain and loneliness throughout their ordeal.  There are no adequate words that can bring comfort to such a situation.  But I did attempt to provide my understanding of the Christian community’s challenge and response to situations such as theirs.


One thing that comes to mind is that my Christian faith is built on a tragic understanding of the human condition.  That is, I understand human beings to be spiritually and morally fallen creatures who can only be redeemed by an unmerited act of grace by a merciful God.  Given our fallenness, we Christians see ourselves to be in need of spiritual and moral regeneration that occurs only partially in this life.  Thus we seek to build Christian communities in which the acts of mercy and giving that you found so wanting are taught and encouraged.  It takes decades, even generations, for these lessons to grow into the new lives and new cultures that conform more closely with Christ’s character.

This tragic viewpoint doesn’t excuse moral failure.  Rather, it seeks to honestly face up to the nature of the challenge when we seek to build more caring, giving people and communities.  We also know that even the most faithful Christian communities will yet be burdened by jealousy, selfishness, dishonesty and many other faults.  We thus will always fall short of the ideal to which we aspire.

My Christian faith doesn’t immediately make me more moral than all non-Christians and I am not a Christian because of any inherent moral superiority.  Rather, I am a Christian because God through Christ has made known to me his love and mercy. He calls me to respond in thankfulness and faithfulness to this saving act in my life.


I have tried to be a supportive friend in this case and am occasionally useful in this regard to others.  But I am exceedingly thankful for Christians who have devoted themselves to that great calling of mercy towards and comfort to those suffering illness.