Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Persecution of the Church

I found this quote in the January-February 2006 issue of Discipleship Journal.
"Stop praying for the persecution in China to end...We, in fact, are praying that the American Church might taste the same persecution so revival would come {there} like we have seen in China."
A leader of a Chinese house-church movement, quoted in World, October 1, 2005

A couple of thoughts of my own. First, though the Church has undoubtedly prospered under persecution throughout its history, is persecution necessary for revival? Second, it's interesting to me that the pre-Constantinian church prayed for an end to the persecution that befell them, yet this person is asking for persecution to continue. His comment, it seems, represents a view of the Christian life that runs parallel with the Left Behind books in which a malevolent new world order - aka, the government - strives to destroy the faithful through physical means. It seems plain to me that the "Powers of this world" are not our worst enemy. No, the histories of Constantinianism and as well as the early European settlers of the Americas show that the Church is its own worst enemy. Finally, the quote betrays a lack of perspective of the actual persecution of the Church in North America. The North American Church is being persecuted. No, it's not the liberalization of American Christianity, or attacks on Christmas and its displays. The religious right's decision to align itself with the power structures of this world in order to build a "Christian Nation." Brothers and sisters, we are the proverbial frog being slow boiled to our death, and we're doing it to ourselves.