C. Michael Patton:
Many people believe that the western world is on a fast train heading toward a time when there will again be physical persecution. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that when we are always looking for some time in the future . . . we miss something very important: we are already under persecution – intellectual persecution. It is happening right now, under our noses, everyday. All one has to do is turn on Bill Maher, watch the news, or read one of the “New Atheists.” Their interaction does not come in the form of reasoned intellectual response to Christian beliefs or values, but belittling sound bites which seek to gain them quick favoritism. Have you ever seen a Christian attempt to pull off a news interview? If the Christian stands up for traditional marriage, against abortion, or holds to the exclusivity of Christianity or the reality of eternal punishment, there is no call for debate or serious interaction, but ad hominem attacks. As in all things, belittling evidences more insecurity on the side of the belittler than anything else, but observers don’t always know that. This translates into a more culturally-accepted persecution and suppression of ideas. How do we know about it so intimately? Because we have done the same thing to others.
You see, Satan’s goal is not necessarily the torturous death of a person. Everyone dies eventually. Death is not an authoritative power that Satan has been given, but is an ever-abiding reality of his own future. But what he wants to do is erode our beliefs. He does not care whether this comes through a denial of the faith at the end of a barrel in a lion’s den (if I could place those two together) or the lessening of faith due to embarrassing associations of God with Santa Claus on a playground. He simply wants people to believe less today than they did yesterday. He is the crow who comes and eats the seed so people might not hear and believe the word of God (Matt. 13:19). Remember the parable of the soils? The seed is the word of God. The four soils represent the human heart. Seed number 1, Satan ate. But what about the others? Seeds number 2 and 3 gained ground, but eventually fell away. Remember the seed that took root, grew with great excitement, but then died? Why did it die? Because it was “choked” out due to persecution and oppression (Matt. 13:21). Satan’s goal is simple: he wants our faith to be insecure. There is no need for him to turn to physical persecution here in America. He has dibs on intellectual persecution and it is choking out the faith of so many. Perpetual doubt, disallusionment, and dispair are the result.
Also Worth Reading
In Case You Missed It
Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:
J. Gresham Machen: The Unpopular Message and Responsibility of the Church
R.C. Sproul: The Purpose of Testing
Walter Marshall: The Scandal of Religion