Whose Side Are You On Christian Leaders?

By BILL MUEHLENBERG – I have a really hard time telling which is worse: anti-Christian militants or men-pleasing Christian leaders who defend Christophobes.

I have a really hard time telling which is worse: anti-Christian militants who are doing all they can do shut down Christians, stymie the public proclamation of the gospel, and attack religious freedom, or the clueless and seemingly men-pleasing Christian leaders who actually defend the Christophobes.

This happens all the time and it bothers me no end. It certainly bothers those who are bearing the brunt of this anti-Christian bigotry. They are gobsmacked that some of these big cheese Christian leaders are actually siding with the oppressors here, while minimising or tut-tutting the very real persecution they are facing.

I have been in touch with so many of these folks who are now facing various tribunals, public rebuke, discrimination boards, and court cases. I have been in touch with so many of these folks who have lost their jobs or been fined or even been imprisoned for standing strong and adhering to their faith and Christian principles.

Yet we have a number of Christian leaders of the left who are essentially mocking these folks, and those of us who seek to stand up for them. I could name plenty of names here but I won’t. But to be honest many of these folks just seem rather pompous and full of themselves.

They seem to love the praise of men, and they seem to especially adore the praise of the leftist MSM. In fact, they will often appear on various leftist media programs and events, usually quite careful not to say anything that will offend anyone, while they seek to placate the leftist media and keep them happy.

Whose side are they really on?

And have these leaders ever actually met any of these folks who have been persecuted for their faith? Have they actually talked to any of them? Or are they too busy sitting in their ivory towers and academic easy chairs taking pot-shots at those who do? Are they too busy defending the secular left ABC?

They really pride themselves in not being “conservative” or “fundamentalist” or “narrow” or “intolerant”. Oh no, there is nothing worse than that! And they act as if they can just straddle the middle of the road and please everyone. But many of them are really just leftists who unashamedly are pushing their leftist positions.

I have gotten all rather tired of these folks to be honest. Why am I reminded of those whom Jesus so harshly condemned in his day? “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets” (Luke 20:46).

Whose side are they really on?

One of these leaders actually said this about some recent cases of clear-cut anti-Christian bigotry which Andrew Bolt highlighted: “A right-wing non-Christian shock-jock goads Christians into sharing his paranoid, fear-mongering spray about the evils of anti-discrimination tribunals, education departments, student unions, the Greens, ‘same-sex marriage extremists,’ and of course the ABC.”

So let me get this straight. Here we have someone who is clearly a ‘left-wing non-Christian shock-jock’ to use his own condescending and unedifying phrase, trying to tell us there simply is no such thing as leftist groups which really do want to remake society in their own image, with biblical Christianity clearly in their sights.

And he really is wanting to convince us there is no such thing as ‘same-sex marriage extremists’. What? You mean all the times I and others have had to run the gauntlet – complete with police protection – to enter and speak at a pro-marriage meeting because the same-sex marriage extremists were doing everything they could to shut down the meetings and prevent us from going in just did not happen?

You mean all the cases I have now documented countless times in my articles and my books about Christians being harassed, losing their jobs, being fined, or even jailed, for daring to share the gospel and for daring to say marriage is to be between a man and a woman simply never happened?

Does he really mean to tell us that I and others are just making all this up, that we are liars, lunatics, or as he so graciously and Christianly puts it, just ‘fear-mongers’ and “paranoid”? Wow. I get ad hominem attacks all the time from the militant left, be they angry atheists or radical homosexual activists.

But I certainly don’t expect so-called Christian leaders to engage in the same mud-slinging and ugly abuse against Christians and non-Christians alike, including those Christians who are indeed on the receiving end of all these nasty attacks. One really has to ask some hard questions of these leaders.

And he really thinks that the ABC is just peachy, and a great friend of Christianity!? Really? Um, which universe does this guy live in? He sure does not seem to live in Australia. I have written dozens of articles documenting numerous cases of deliberate and defiant anti-Christian-bigotry coming from “our” ABC. Yet this guy thinks they do not exist, and the only troublemakers out there are folks like me and Bolt and the Christians who are bearing the brunt of these attacks.

Whose side are they really on?

On persecution

Now when I or a concerned non-Christian like Bolt speak of persecution and the like down under, we are all fully aware that there are of course degrees of persecution. If you live in a Muslim-majority country you can very likely be arrested, tortured and killed for being a Christian.

No one is saying that the numerous cases of anti-Christian bigotry in Australia and the West are that severe – at least not yet. So these leftist leaders are simply offering us straw men and red herrings. Of course these cases are not on the same scale as some cases of overseas persecution. But these leaders miss the point big time.

Invariably hard-core persecution begins with lighter persecution. We see that happening all the time if we study history. First, light penalties and assaults on the faith and religious freedom take place. Yet because so few speak out against this, it all gets ratcheted up, until before you know it, there is little or no religious freedom left, and Christian proclamation is considered to be a hate crime, punishable by the state.

This is always the way it works. It is the frog in the pan of boiling water routine all over again. Because it is piece-meal and incremental, many do not know it is even happening. And critics like these lefty leaders will mock, pillory and attack those of us who dare to point out the many cases of actual anti-Christian bigotry and persecution that are now occurring on a regular basis.

Whose side are they really on?

It is no different from what some of the switched-on and aware Christians in Germany had tried to say back in the 30s and 40s. They too offered many warnings about what was taking place, but plenty of Christian leaders just derided them and vilified them, accusing them of fear-mongering, paranoia, intolerance and extremism.

By the time a few others finally caught on, it was of course too late. Thus the very famous line by German pastor and Holocaust survivor Martin Niemoller certainly is most appropriate here:

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.

The real champions here are the many brave and devout Christians who will preach the gospel on street corners, who will defend God’s institutions of marriage and family, who will publicly stand up for the unborn, etc. And they are doing all this and more even when it means facing the criticisms of men and the heavy hand of the law.

The heroes are certainly not all these armchair critics who delight in attacking Christians like this and those who defend them. They can call us paranoid and extremists and fear-mongers all they like. I don’t care really. The prophets were called the same. Jesus too.

Whose side are they really on?


 

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Bill Muehlenberg

Bill Muehlenberg is an American-born apologist and ethicist in Melbourne, Australia. He has a BA with honours in philosophy (Wheaton College, Chicago), an MA with highest honours in theology (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston). He is currently completing a PhD in theology. He has his own ministry called CultureWatch, which features Christian commentary on the issues of the day, including extensive writings on issues surrounding Islam. He is a prolific author, and a much sought after media commentator, and has been featured on most television and radio current affairs programs. Bill teaches ethics, apologetics and theology at several Melbourne Bible Colleges. He is the author of Strained Relations: The Challenge of Homosexuality, Freedom Publishing, 2011. Bill is married, with three sons.

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