It is the start of the year 2021, so it seemed a good time to write a review of the state of the Church in the world. It isn’t that the state of the church is so different from what it has mostly been, an immiscible mixture of heroic suffering, short-sighted ease and downright betrayal of God and His Word. But now is a time where the Church, i.e. every Christian of every denomination and none, needs to realise the perils of our age and rise to confront them with faith, courage, love and not a little skill.
The Church seems to be largely asleep, preferring the comfort of a warm bed and the smug satisfaction of inward thoughts to the cold harsh reality that it is under attack and there are predators who are vigorously attacking it and want to see it dead. So, unless the Church wants to be consumed in its pyjamas, it is time to wake up, for ‘the night is far gone and the day is at hand.’ [Romans 13:12].
Peter wrote: ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’ [1 Peter 5:8}. This should give us an important clue: we can recognise the devil’s work by acts of predation. Since predators almost always hunt in packs, we should not be surprised by the church being attacked by several different forces coming from different directions at once.
So, let us scout around the world and see what is happening. The Chinese Communists are ramping up their pressure on the Church. The trap they laid for the church by requiring much of the church to register under the Three Self Movement has been sprung. The Party is demanding that these Churches put obedience and worship of the Chinese Communist Party above obedience and worship of Christ, whom they malign by publishing false and twisted ‘Bible’ stories to make out Jesus was a bad man. Pictures of the President of the CCP, Xi Jinping, are required to be hung in the churches, replacing images of the cross, which Party thugs tear down off the walls. Each day China is looking less like a modern secular society and more like North Korea.
The unregistered churches continue to be heavily persecuted, their leaders sent to the Chinese re-education camps, the Chinese Gulag for undesirables. Throughout society, sophisticated use of CCTV and image recognition technology monitors every member of society, rewarding or penalising individuals according to their compliance to the demands of the state.
This is a country that is going down the same ideological path that Germany did in the 1930s. It has the same emphasis on propaganda, the same jackbooted thuggery, the same use of internment, the same persecution of all who do not acquiesce to the party’s bellicose plans of world domination.
We must pray for the Christians, that they will be provided with tremendous courage, faith and power from on high. We must try to support them in any way we can.
What goes on in China is also setting the tone for the rest of Asia: India, Burma, Vietnam and Siberian Russia all have substantial Christian populations who are attacked, hunted and killed by regimes whose purposes are anti-Christian.
The picture above was taken in the Vietnam War, but symbolises to me the need for Christian communities to be resolute in their defence of their God-given right to worship freely without interference by malign gangs masquerading as governments. This picture is of a perimeter of a Montagnard village. It shows a ditch and embankment. Barbed wire fencing run beyond the ditch and along the embankment. The ditch is laid with bamboo fire-hardened spikes as caltrops. These defences were necessary because the Viet Cong, again communist forces, were massacring Christian Montegnard tribes-people, because of their lack of support for the communist cause.
The intimidatory power of the predatory anti-Christian communists made the Montegnards determined to protect their people and therefore their lands. In the end they were betrayed by the American Government and the now mostly live scattered across other parts of south east Asia. But their resolve and fortitude is honoured as outstanding in the long blood-soaked history of Christian persecution, and their courage should stiffen the spine of every Christian who understand their personal role in the great struggle for the Kingdom of God.
In resisting the Gospel, these Asian nations are storing up trouble for themselves and their continent. Already, China’s bullyboy diplomacy is undermining its economy. But instead of learning from its mistakes, China continues to double down and pay attention to Sun tzu, not Jesus of Nazareth. They have not yet understood that drawing the sword leads inexorably to dying by the sword.
In the Muslim countries of Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, the grip of Islam keeps the Church fragmented, hidden, underground and powerless. Even as Iran tries to slide toward becoming a nuclear power, Pakistan continues to use its draconian blasphemy laws against its Christian minority and Turkish forces kill Christians or Kurds wherever it is possible for it to do so, nonetheless the cracks are growing in Islam. The research on the origins of Islam have revealed a very different picture to the standard narrative Moslem scholars have taught. The Qur’an is certainly not a single text handed down by God unchanged and perfect. There are at least 28 different Qur’ans and they are all different. No Qur’an can be reliability traced back to the seventh century. The man Mohammed is not a clear historical figure but is looking increasingly ‘invented’. Early Islam started not in Mecca but in Petra. Having thrived as a desert kingdom of Edom for 2,000 years, within 200-300 years of Islam’s establishment, Petra was dead, uninhabited, its lands eroded and its people scattered.
All of the standard narratives about early Islam have been shown to be false – in other words for 1,400 years Muslims have been lied to by their own religious leaders and, out of either love for God or fear of their fellow Muslims, they have swallowed these lies uncritically. Now the truth is out – Islam has no solid spiritual truth within itself. It perpetuates chiefly by violence and threat of violence – there is that predator again.
In Iran today only around 40% of its people still believe in Islam. Having lived under a supposedly pure Islamic regime since the Shah was deposed, they have come to realise what a sick, inhuman, violent, misogynistic system it truly is and the majority want none of it anymore.
Some of those have become Christians. We must pray for them as they courageously suffer in Iran’s notorious gaols.
In the rest of the world the Church is under attack for its beliefs. In particular the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, marriage, family and righteousness is being excluded from the public sphere and now the law-makers are trying to exclude it from the private sphere – in other words they are trying to extinguish the light of Christian doctrine. Jesus and God are being described as bad characters (for an excellent rebuttal, read God is Good by Martin G. Kuhrt.) Drive largely by the homosexual lobby, this is a classic Psychological Operations war, including infiltration, propaganda, suppression inconvenient truths (such as the disastrous health impact of gay lifestyles) and intimidation.
In the West we see most clearly a sleeping Church being thrown out of society by people whose mission is to wage war on truth and replace it with whatever vision they prefer. One of the greatest medical scandals of our age is the sex change procedures being perpetrated on unsuspecting teenagers. Dr Mengele would have approved, no doubt?
What is common in all these situations is the malign roles that governments play in these operations, whether kinetic or psychological. Open societies are prone to governments being infiltrated and parasitised by special interest groups, who are less squeamish about grasping and maintaining their grip on the levers of power: the media, the government, press, education, and some of the consulting firms.
However, what they fail to realise is that the more morally inverted a government system becomes, the more illegitimate its rule. As Paul explains in Romans 13: 1-8, governors are a terror to those who do evil and rewarders of those who do good. Once a government becomes habituated in doing the reverse, it becomes indistinguishable from being an armed gang.
In other words, it is ONLY the internalisation of the Judaeo-Christian system of Biblical ethics that makes the tripartite system of judicial, legislative and executive government sufficiently stable to deliver to their people the benefits of government. Once these ethics are rejected, excluded and inverted, all the government can rely on is coercive psycho-ops, intimidation and the use of force: the pattern of the roaring lion Peter taught is about. They turn their countries into prisons.
What should the Church do? Become more ‘relevant’ by compromising? Oh, please. This is exactly the wrong thing to do. Fearlessly tell the truth, for a start.
Last I want to review the church in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and then I will conclude with some principles. The church in SSA is arguably the youngest continental church. It is also subject to all these anti-Christian forces at once. Well-funded Islamic terrorist battalions maraud through Christian communities while government forces withdraw safely until all danger is past. Chinese companies with state backing place burdensome demands on countries in which Christians live, sapping the nations of resources. The United Nations is used by the ‘modernisers’ to force corrosive education programmes that teach children sinful practices as ‘healthy’. In an continent struggling with AIDS, such educational messaging is none other than sadistic wanton cruelty.
Yet I am encouraged about the Church in Africa. It continues to demonstrate, despite the many problems, great fortitude and energy. It has all the elements that are essential in a church: it is Gracious, Responsible, Enduring, Adept and Truthful. With a small nod to Mr Trump, it has the opportunity to be a GREAT church, a powerful missionising and culturalising force that can transform Africa into the leading continent on Earth, centred on the Word of God.
The power of the church does not lie in the number of its divisions (as Stalin once asked, ‘How many divisions has the Pope got?’) but in its moral authority and its absolute right and responsibility, given to it by none other than the Risen Christ, to disciple the nations. To do that is must be true to its own doctrines.
In truth there are two churches, false and true. True churches are genuinely loving, non-coercive and obedient, including in sexual matters.
Ultimately there must be a distinction made between non-Christian nations who, in the name of liberal progressive values, subvert these with a river of sexual perversity and victim-making, as opposed to the Christians who live within these nations. The time is coming shortly when these Christians will have to become independent and grasp a kind of proto-sovereignty, a de facto independence from the nations they live amongst – interpenetrating but not part of – immiscible but within the borders of the nations whose leaders and, by and large, its people have rejected God and his teachers.
The fate of the God-hating West is to become weakened to the point where they realise they have to turn to a religious group for strength. It will not be the Christians whom they turn to, their hatred for Christ and His values is too strong for that. No, they will turn to the Muslims.
It is interesting that PM Boris Johnson is trying to expand the G7 groups of nations in to the D10, the ten leading democratic nations. The Bible speaks of a time when ten ‘kings’ give their power to the Beast (Islam) who then will turn their power on not only the Christians but also the remains of a betrayed Christian civilisation – modernity. The lights then go out, literally. The pieces on the board are moving.
In the final analysis only one decision matters: when we stand before the great white throne of Almighty God, and there is Jesus in His glory and Judge of All the earth, to whom were we loyal and faithful and true?
It is now my firm opinion that it is the Christian church, indomitable, free and pure, who will become the kernel of the human civilisation that will replace this one when it falls (not if, but when). Each one of us has our small and apparently insignificant role to play, but together we can do exploits and be ready for the return of our King. The Lord bless you all,
President – Jesus Christ for Muslims