Occasional editorials written since 2001 

Passion yes, aggression no. Harry Potter All roads lead to God"  
Value of a soul. Homosexuality Passion of the Christ
Islam and Christianity  Love not the world Persecution coming
Biblical or secular worldview" Freewill offering Letter or Spirit"
Faith The sacred and non-sacred Test your self
Discernment The gospel of me Repentance
Sinking sand That awful four letter word Sin
When God offends. Walls, gates and electric fences The curse of pornography

 

Persecution coming  (first written in 2004 with several additions added in 2006 and 2009)

For years it has been the 'norm' for Christians to be persecuted in middle eastern countries, but in the west we have been left in relative comfort.

As you may have gathered from the editorials on this page, I have, for years, sought to warn the church in the United Kingdom that difficult days lie ahead, and for years, by and large, the warnings have gone unheeded. The cry of revival now! has all but closed ears to any other prospect on the horizon.

Praise God my teaching is well received almost everywhere I go. The only 'flack' I have had has been when, on a few occasions I have taught on the martyrs as a lead in to what I believe in one form or another is coming down the line towards us.  On some occasions to my surprise it has caused a measure of offence. "You're frightening people" has been a response put to me privately after the teaching.

A few years ago my understanding of the times that lie ahead was but a spiritual ear on the railroad track, hearing the rumbling of the train far away and out of sight.  But anyone with an eye to see and an ear to hear does not need to put their ear to the track anymore. Just observe where society is going and consider.

Let me give you several examples.

Birmingham University's Christian Union have been banned from using Student Union Guild rooms and facilities, and had their bank accounts frozen by Guild authorities because they refused to make politically-correct changes to their charitable constitution on religious grounds.

The Students Union wanted to place one of their own (non Christian) leaders onto the Christian Union Executive, and open membership to people of all faiths and beliefs and instructed the Christian fellowship to change its constitution from "men and women" to "people" to make it more inclusive for transsexual/transgender persons to become members.

A Christian Union spokesperson said, "The Guild insists our constitution must be amended to include 'mandatory clauses', insisting more control and more intrusion by the Guild and open membership to those who would not call themselves Christians".

Exeter and Edinburgh Universities also voted to suspend Christian groups from membership or use of premises. At Exeter the 50 year old Christian union was banned by the student's guild and barred from University rooms because it refused to withdraw rules which insisted that members believe in Jesus Christ.

Meanwhile at Millais school, an all girls comprehensive school in West Sussex, Christian girls were told to remove 'chastity vow' rings (with the Bible verse 1st Thessalonians 4: 3-4) which declared their intention to wait until marriage to enter into a sexual union. This was being enforced under the school's uniform policy. However Muslim girls are allowed to wear  head covering which is not part of the school uniform and Sikh girls are allowed to wear the bangle which of course is not part of the uniform either.

Years ago, in Great Britain, such things would have been unthinkable.

As a Daily Mail reporter wrote recently, "we are now living in post-Christian Britain"

In the spring of this year, Channel 4 aired a well advertised documentary entitled 'The New Fundamentalists'

This was not a neutrally biased documentary but a relentless attack on fundamental Christianity.

State schools where evolution was taught but presented as a faith option were particularly targeted, since the interviewer believed that science has left mankind with no option other than evolution. (note: he needs to hear the latest views of contemporary scientists who, - following new scientific discoveries - have switched their platform from evolution to 'intelligent design')

Christians who believe every word of the Bible, who would wish to have the blasphemous 'Jerry Springer - the opera' censored, who would not approve of homosexual activity and who would urge young people to abstain from pre-marital sex were all treated as evangelical extremists.

Yet these are not new views, nor extreme views, but simply traditional Christian views.

When Sikhs' aggressively protested about the contents of a play in a Birmingham theatre in December 2004 the show was cancelled. The protesters claimed that the play, which is set in a Sikh temple, mocked their faith. The theatre said it refused to censor the work but was abandoning the production on health and safety grounds.  I am fairly confident in predicting that the show is unlikely to reappear in any UK theatre or be aired on television.

Now see the difference when Christians are grossly offended.

A week or so later, the BBC brought the infamous 'Jerry Springer, the opera' to the nation.

It was not just the 200+ swear words (sadly we've all had to get used to that) but the blasphemous context in which many of them were used. For instance.. (and I quote from the BBC itself)

"always with the crucifixion"..why don't you get over it and give us all a f***ing break"

"Jesus grow up for Christ's sake and put some f***ing clothes on."

I quote, again from the BBC, that they received complaints regarding..

  • the portrayal of "Jesus" as a man in nappies who wanted to "poop in his pants"
     
  • the reference to "Jesus" being "a little bit gay"
     
  • "Eve" attempting to fondle the genitals of "Jesus"
     
  • the description of "Mary" as "raped by an angel, raped by God"
     
  • the portrayal of "Mary" as accusing "Jesus" of neglect
     
  • obscene language put into the mouths of members of the Holy Family
     
  • the portrayal of "Jesus" as offering violence
     
  • irreverent visual and verbal allusions to the crucifixion
     
  • the portrayal of "God" as needing Jerry Springer's advice

However, that the show itself was blasphemous and deeply offensive to hundreds of thousands of Christians was the secondary issue. Life goes on.

The fact that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC 2) chose to show it (not once, but twice) to the nation was the most telling and shocking sign of where Great Britain as a historically Christian nation had come to, and where as a post Christian nation it was intending to go. 

BBC Producer Antony Pitts resigned saying that .." a corner has been turned. I feel a corporate responsibility for what has happened " aggravated by the fact that we the BBC did not give sufficient attention to the overwhelming level of listener protest in advance.."

In his resignation he reminded the BBC that they were 'intended to be a beacon of inspiration to the country'

He said that the Director-General of the BBC was aware of the blasphemy laws, which can be summarised as follows..

"Every publication is said to be blasphemous which contains any contemptuous, reviling, scurrilous or ludicrous matter relating to God, Jesus Christ, or the Bible, or the formularies of the Church of England as by law established. It is not blasphemous to speak or publish opinions hostile to the Christian religion, or to deny the existence of God, if the publication is couched in decent and temperate language. The test to be applied is as to the manner in which the doctrines are advocated and not as to the substance of the doctrines themselves. Everyone who publishes any blasphemous document is guilty of the [offence] of publishing a blasphemous libel. Everyone who speaks blasphemous words is guilty of the [offence] of blasphemy." (article 214 of Stephen"s Digest of the Criminal Law, 9th ed., 1950 confirmed by Lord Scarman, 1979, and the European Court of Human Rights, 1996)

Interestingly, the BBC was founded on Christian principles. The inscription in the entrance hall of BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London states..

"To Almighty God, this shrine of the arts, music and literature is dedicated by the first Governors in the year of our Lord 1931, John Reith being Director General. It is their prayer that good seed sown will produce a good harvest, that everything offensive to decency and hostile to peace will be expelled, and that the nation will incline its ear to those things which are lovely, pure and of good report and thus pursue that path of wisdom and virtue."

The shock of the nation's own broadcasting corporation giving the show air time was so unexpected, and so offensive, that for the first time in years Christians were roused to publicly protest in substantial numbers.

Around 1500 protested 'on the streets', and according to the BBC more than 65,000 people contacted them about about the show (a record number for one programme) and 96% were complaints.

Yet the BBC chose to ignore such a protest.

The BBC News quoted the controller of BBC Two, Roly Keating, as saying that the programme will 'push back the boundaries of taste and decency'.

The BBC Governors' Programme Complaints Committee acknowledged the massive backlash but concluded that they were right to show the programme. It was 'art' and the audience was well warned of its content.

I confess that I smiled when I read the committee's belief that that 'the BBC would broadcast a programme raising similar issues relating to another religion'

I await a similar televised 'artistic work of art' that treats Muslim, Sikh or Hindu beliefs to the same blasphemous ridicule.

In 2006 when the furore broke out over the Danish newspaper cartoons depicting Muslim prophet Muhammad, the BBC would not show the cartoons themselves in case they offended their Muslim audience. Instead they gave a very brief, non close-up picture of a newspaper displaying it.

These are extracts from their justification for not showing the offensive items themselves..

The BBC's guidelines on religion also commit us to "reflect an awareness of the religious sensitivity of references to, or uses of, names, images, the historic deities, rituals, scriptures and language at the heart of the different faiths and ensure that any use of, or verbal or visual reference to them are treated with care and editorially justified. Examples include the Crucifixion, Holy Communion, the Koran, and the Jewish Sabbath".

So a clear editorial justification is required if the BBC is going to trespass on the religious sensitivities of Muslims at home and abroad by showing the Danish newspapers' cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad or the reprinting of them elsewhere. ..

BBC News has a duty to report the world to its audience and had to report the story of the sudden eruption of protest across the Muslim world. We had to show our audiences what Muslims are reacting to. As it happens we could do that with the sensitive use of the cartoons as displayed in the newspapers that have published them whilst minimising the possibility of offence to our Muslim audience by showing them carefully and sensitively. We avoided close ups and detail.

At the same time BBC News Online has not reproduced the cartoons to prevent someone who might be offended stumbling across them on our site.

[full report]

(Incidentally, 'Jerry Springer, the opera' was given a government Arts Council grant of £300,000 to assist it in touring the country. Otherwise, by their own admission it was not financially viable)

In late December 2002 the BBC showed - despite the most protests of that year - and just days before Christmas, a documentary suggesting that the Virgin Mary's birth was nothing more than rape by a locally based Roman soldier.

A BBC spokesman said: 'We knew tackling the Virgin Mary was always going to be a sensitive subject, but we stand by the programme

The television lobby group Mediawatch, said: 'This is unacceptable for a public service broadcaster like the BBC. Many licence fee payers are Christian and the BBC is trying to undermine the celebration of Christmas so close to the feast itself."

As Bob Dylan once sang so prophetically.. "the times they are a-changing"

Then there's the issue of homosexuality.

The Christian viewpoint is that every soul has immeasurable value.

The Christian viewpoint is that God loves the homosexual, but detests the immoral behaviour involved in that lifestyle.  Just as He loves the adulterer, but detests the immoral behaviour involved in that lifestyle. Just as He loves the drunkard, but detests the immoral behaviour involved in that lifestyle. And the thief, and the extortioner etc. Simply put, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and we all need a personal Saviour.

The apostle Paul summed it up this way..

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God" Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

If Christians want to show God's love to any sinner they will tell them that God loves them, but detests their sin. They will tell them that it is God's heart to separate the sinner and the sin forever and thus save the sinner. Hence the work of the cross.

Since society no longer includes homosexuality on it's 'sin list' it now finds Christian teaching on the subject offensive.

What was traditionally a Christian witness in this area is now being reclassified as a potential 'hate crime'

In June 2004, Ike Green, the Pastor of an evangelical Pentecostal church in Borgholm, Sweden was convicted of 'agitation' because of his comments against homosexual practice and given a one-month prison sentence. He had preached an orthodox sermon which included teaching on grace forgiveness and redemption.

Prosecutors then tried to make it six months.

Praise God he successfully appealed the case and was acquitted. The Court said Pastor Green's rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech were infringed by his conviction and this was then confirmed by the Swedish Supreme Court. [here for more details plus video]

On March 5th 2006 the Daily Mail reported the story of an elderly devout Christian couple who were interviewed by police after they complained about a local council's gay rights campaign. They were quizzed for more than an hour at their home in Fleetwood after asking if they could distribute Christian pamphlets next to the gay rights literature at the town hall. The two policemen who interviewed the elderly couple said that their request had been close to a 'hate crime' and told them that they wanted to 'educate them' out of their belief that homosexuality was wrong. The elderly gentleman being interviewed told the police that he and his wife had no objection to gay people, but that homosexual practice was wrong.

[Note; In December 2006 the couple were given an official apology from the police and awarded £10,000 compensation for the Police actions. They gave the money to a charity]

Stephen Green, a Cardiff evangelist, was arrested for handing out leaflets at a gay rally stating that the Bible taught the homosexuality was sinful. The case was dropped just before it got to court.

At a Christian leadership school where I was a speaker, a delegate told me that police had called him to the police station to interview him over a teaching he had given to a small weekly Bible class in the church, because, using the Bible, he had explained that homosexual behaviour was wrong.

The Gay Police associations placed a large advertisement in 'The Guardian' newspaper on June 29th 2006 which dramatically featured the Bible and spilt blood. The headline was 'In the name of the Father'. It claimed that the Gay Police association had recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator.

The Advertising Standards Authority received a record number of protests for the year and after investigating the matter for several months, banned the advertisement from further publications stating that it breached codes covering truthfulness, accuracy and offence. The Authorities said that the Gay Police Association failed to back up its figures and unfairly implied that Christians are driven by religious motives to hate and abuse homosexuals.

If the positions had been reversed and Christians had placed an aggressive anti-homosexual advertisement implying that homosexuals were brutally attacking Christians, and using figures which could not be backed up, it is safe to say that the outcry would have been enormous with prosecutions threatening.

Melanie Phillips writing in her column in the Daily Mail June 19th 2006 began with the statement 'Would anyone ever have imagined that one day it would become illegal to teach children to follow precepts laid down in the Bible"'  She goes on to state that on the issue of homosexuality, new draft regulations are currently being considered under the Equality Act which would make traditional views and teachings on the subject illegal. She went on to say, "In other words it would become an act of illegality to put into practice a cardinal tenet of religious faith, including the Christianity that is the established faith of this country and which underpins its values and lies at the very core of its identity. We have therefore exchanged one deep intolerance for another. Behaviour that was once considered socially unacceptable and even illegal must now be promoted as an acceptable lifestyle choice, and anyone who disagrees is to fall foul of the law"

One month later Hackney council rescinded a ban placed on American evangelist and former gangster Nicky Cruz, (who featured in David Wilkerson's 'Sword and the switchblade') only after he apologised for comments he had made about homosexuality. They were going to pull the plug on Nicky Cruz's two concerts at the local Ocean music venue, after Cruz said that homosexuality was a "sexual perversion" and an "evil practise."  Years ago that would have been standard comment from a pulpit if the subject was being preached on.  When God speaks of the practice as an 'abomination' (Lev.18:22) what words must preachers now use"

The Sexual Orientation Regulations - due to become law in Spring 2007 - means that ministers could be sued for refusing to bless same sex marriages. The Daily Mail carried an article on November 29th 2006 showing that Church of England and Catholic charities may have to be closed because they could not accept the 'moral standards being touted by the government'

While witchcraft does not yet enjoy the same measure of goodwill as homosexuality does, it also is no longer on society's 'sin list' either.  Christian teaching on this subject will therefore seem increasingly offensive.

I have little doubt that after a period of police 'interviews' in these and similar areas prosecutions will follow.

As other faiths have increased numerically - mainly through years of immigration into the United Kingdom - religious pluralism at peace with secular humanism has become society's hope for a harmonious society.

Traditional Christianity will seem to be the fly in the perfume.

This means that the traditional Christian views on marriage, sex, abortion, child raising and of course believing that Jesus Christ is only one way to God will continue to produce increasing levels of antagonism towards unwavering members of the Christian faith.

It is only the thin end of the wedge we are experiencing, and yet, sadly, sections of the traditional church have already begun to buckle under public pressure.

And then there's the hugely successful 'Da Vinci code' book (and film)

As with the 1982 book 'Holy Blood and Holy Grail' the mixture of religious intrigue, secret societies which have been hiding a powerful truth from the world (i.e. that Jesus only swooned on the cross, married Mary Magdalene, headed off to France and had children, and whose generational line is still alive today) makes for a runaway best seller. However the book is not an innocent fiction but yet another relentless attack on the Christian Church. First Harry Potter makes witchcraft attractive, then Da Vinci code makes the church appear deceptive and evil, and goddess worship the real truth.

Finally (2006) there is Richard Dawkin's hugely successful book 'The God Delusion' (9,000,000 copies sold) which attacks all faiths but reserves the most vitriolic attacks for Christians and especially Genesis believing Christians.  As a most driven and outspoken man he is mustering quite a wave of anti Christian feeling around him. . The intent of the wave is to ridicule and remove faith in God and faith in the Bible. What the outcome of this wave will be time will tell.

However the most obvious first step in this new anti Christian fervour is the blasphemy challenge where people are invited to publicly blaspheme or deny the Holy Spirit in order to mockingly 'damn themselves to hell'   (Interestingly they have all misunderstood what blaspheming the Holy Spirit means. It was directed at the behaviour of the Pharisees who knew all too well that the miracles were the work of God but were deliberately saying that the work of the Holy Spirit was the work of satan)

Who is on the Lord's side?  

[In 2009 the Manhattan Declaration was born, as levels of persecution became more and more oppressive]

There is more to come. And more.

The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete (quote from Genesis 15:16)

For those who would hold fast to their faith in the Word of God as a lamp on to their feet and a light on to their path, persecution is coming.

Jesus said ..

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned" It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:10-16)

The good news is that as the persecution ripens, the church will blossom. Persecution has always done this to the real church.

[2016 update: Persecution has greatly increased as mentioned in later editorials]

 

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