Let me start by making this point – the Church is not a state: it is a teacher of nations and a healer of people in heart, soul, mind and body, or should be.
Increasingly, many national governments are trying to snuff out the light of Christ, to close down the churches and eliminate any influence or indeed works of service in the communities in the countries they govern.
Why is this? This is because contained within the teachings of Christ is an expectation that authorities will ‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.’ (Isaiah 1:17). This stands in rather sharp contrast to the typical assumptions that nations states have about their purpose:
- States are the highest power in a nation – they have no responsibility to listen to the words of the King of Kings.
- All states have some offensive military capability: and they want the freedom to use that power without ethical considerations – if they have the opportunity to grow their power and become a regional hegemon, they do not want their policy constrained by moral factors.
- No state can be certain about the intentions of other states, especially in the future, so they fear other states. They regard that fear as understandable and are weary of peace making.
- The principle goal of states is to survive, whereas Christianity has at its core a message that sometimes a person, or perhaps an entity, needs to give up their life, or existence in its current form, for a greater good in the future.
- States generally regard themselves as rational actors. The Church will often criticise the state because the state’s view of reality is too narrow, and short term, resulting in actions that in the long run are irrational.
The consequence of this is that states typically behave in certain patterns:
- They fear each other, since there is no higher authority who has any power to constrain what a belligerent actor will do.
- States will work hard to build up their economies, their military capability and assert their interests diplomatically, but diplomacy is not so much as an appeal to mutual shared values, more a communication of thinly veiled threats.
- The best way to survive is to be a really powerful regional hegemon, states believe. To achieve this, a state must build up a large united country with a strong central authority, and then intimidate or defeat any possible competitors in their region. Having achieved that, the final step is to ensure that no other regional hegemons emerge to challenge their dominance and at that point the state is a global power.
Seen from this viewpoint, Christianity is often viewed as an attempt by existing hegemons (Portugal, Spain, France, England and recently the USA) to impose Christianity to weaken the nations around it and thereby consolidate their power. They do not see, nor have never seen, any of these regional European of New World powers moderate their bid for power through the application of teachings of Christianity to themselves.
While I have some sympathy for that view point, it is as much born out of resentment or fear than reality: the reason why these nations grew into strong nations in the first place is because of Christianity.
However, Christianity is blind to both race and geography: it is not a white man’s religion nor a European religion: it is a universal religion and is as much at home in Surrey or Shanghai as it is in Moscow or Harari.
The effect of Christianity on a nation is that, if widely adopted and taught to the people so that they learn how to believe, feel, think and act as a Christian, it promotes national integrity rather than divides a nation – for the simple reason that people end up caring for one another more. While social change is never comfortable, the fact is that societies are changing all the time – the only question is in what direction – better or worse?
It is curious that some historians, Edward Gibbon being the most famous, argued that Christianity led to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, so he implied that Christianity was bad for nations – it weakened them to the point of collapse. The irony is that he lived in a nation whose rise was, to a large part, enabled by the additional social cohesion and liberty and approach to empirical inquiry that protestant and evangelical Christianity brought to the United Kingdom. Later scholarship has shown that his theory was not sound, and that there were many other reasons why the Roman Empire collapsed, not least the economic corruption of Rome’s ruling elites who certainly were not pursuing policies that could in any way be described as Christian.
It is a further irony that Gibbon’s argument became the received wisdom in Britain and accelerated the involvement of Government control of education, which in turn led education to pivot away from teaching skills toward teaching marshal skills and outlook, which led to a national approval for the Boer War (a moral monstrosity) and then the First World War (in which Britain need not have entered), which then broke the financial strength of the UK.
So how can Christianity assist nations rather than weaken them? I have already mentioned one way – that is by promoting greater unity and social cohesion and greater realism and education within a state. At first glance Christianity appears divisive – because it may be a new, or a minority, viewpoint. After all, what happens when some believe but others don’t? If nations can realise that there are always differences, but differences are best dealt with by talking and learning through example rather than the use of force and coercion, then these differences do not fracture society.
However, if the incumbent adherents believe they are right to use force against these Christians, and even worse are encouraged by the state to do so, then Christianity is not only persecuted but the weakness of that society is exposed – its only strength arises from its willingness to use oppression. This is unsustainable.
Such oppression masks its true weakness: in such a state there is little cohesion at any level, as Syria has found out to its cost. The way out of this is to defend the rights of people to speak of what they believe and to challenge those beliefs by fair examination of the information and the quality of their lives and deeds.
Another way Christianity assists nations is that it assists in building alliances through the encouragement of mutual assistance between nations. In some ways, nations act like people on a street without any police force. There is a measure of anarchy. But despite the absence of a worldly authority to bring them to heel, a common faith in Christ means that He becomes a virtual authority – to some measure nations actions are influenced, as though He were here and in charge.
There are a number of examples of this – one obvious one was the role of the United Kingdom in the 19th century in suppressing the global slave trade. This is a unique event in history – no other power had ever before suppressed the global slave trade. The trade in slaves has gone on since the rise of the Sumerian city-states. While some nations (mostly Christian) banned slavery, these bans were local in extent. But the UK assisted the whole world in this regard, and some nations who were on the receiving end of this injustice have never forgotten this – the people of Malawi being a good example.
What motivated the UK to use its Royal Navy to undertake this role for a century was because the people of Britain knew it was the right thing to do, and the majority knew that because their Bible told them that God was a God who set slaves free – either by miraculous power, as He used for the Hebrews – or because He changed human hearts, as Christ had done with Philemon and Onesimus his slave, as recorded in the New Testament.
Britain had the means and the opportunity, and, above all, they had the motivation. How transformational was their policy? Sub-Saharan Africa was set free from the slavery they had endured at the hands of Muslims for over 1,200 years, as well as at the hands of Western nations for 300 years.
Mutual assistance between nations, based on Christian values, reduces the fear and mistrust between nations and permits resources to be redirected from the waste of military arms races toward the satisfaction of human need.
If you believe that militaristic policies are good for a nation, consider the 20th century history of Germany. Only by a process of international reconciliation and generosity (both Christian-inspired processes, by the way) could Germany arise from the ashes of WWII and rebuild. Only by rethinking their approach to governance and adopting a policy of peaceful coexistence with its neighbours rather that invasion, conquest, genocide and enslavement was this possible. What enabled this rethink was the Christian concept of repentance.
I do not understand why China, for example, is so reluctant to let Christians meet and worship freely. In the end the lack of legitimacy of the one-party system in China weakens China – probably in the same way it weakened Germany – that is, catastrophically.
All this was by way of introduction. Now I want to turn to rise of Islam in international law making and what this means for Christianity, and how we need to respond.
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference is the only major international organisation define by religious affiliation, and it coordinates the voting block of not only the OIC nations but also many other nations they influence through their diplomacy.
In the United Nations we detect their influence in the way they maintain a high-profile campaign to delegitimise Israel, with many more votes being taken condemning Israel than against any other country. This is not happening on the basis of evidence of Israel’s wrongdoing. This is religious in its motivation: they want Israel gone, because the teaching of Mohammed and the words of Allah tell them it should be so.
The OIC have a second target in their sights and that is the promotion of the Islamisation of the West.
First, they encouraged the migration from Islamic countries into the West, a process they now want to greatly accelerate through the new UN Global Migration Compact, an agreement that will, if widely adopted, greatly weaken the internal unity of western nations through enabling a massive migration of Muslims, the doors to the nations jammed open by this new international law decriminalising migration.
Second, they want to suppress any critical comment of Islam, of Islamic policies and of Islamic practices. This would put Muslims in a uniquely privileged position in Western societies – perhaps all societies. They can say what they like about other people and their beliefs, but no one can say anything negative, even if its factual, about Muslims or their policies, especially if they are inspired by Islamic teachings or the example of Mohammed. It would deepen the legal differential between Muslims and non-Muslims, the very essence of Sharia Law.
The third step cannot be far behind, which will be to manipulate the populations of the Western nations to adopt Islam by law. The last step would be to enforce that law either by force or by severe economic sanction, or both: i.e. believe in Allah and his messenger, pay the jizya or die, or some equivalent policy.
Non-western nations, who would be only too happy to see the West further weakened, will of course broadly applaud such measures, confident that they never let such policies apply in their own countries. However, I contend that if the West capitulates, the OIC would turn their attention to them, next.
Crafting a workable strategy for the Church, by which I mean Christians collectively, rather than one or two denominations, is exceedingly challenging, not least because the Church is not a State – at least, not yet, not until Jesus returns, at which point the Church will be transformed into a united world government, serving the whole Earth. If you are reading this and you are not a Christian, you may believe He will never return, so any strategy based on any assumption Jesus is coming back to rule the world would be stupid, surely?
Stupid or not, I am going to argue that any Christian strategy must be based on that assumption – that He is coming back, at some point. Given that, our policy goals are given by Scripture: (a) to remain faithful to Christ, (b) for the Church to endure, (c) to maintain a global witness to the truth of Christ and (d) survive if we can, for the sake of the endurance of the Church.
Since we are not a state, we cannot let fear propel us to act like a state and a non-Christian one at that. We are a people, God’s people, we are not a state. Our situation is in many ways is becoming similar to that of the Jewish diaspora, with all the same issues they faced. I recently read of a Nigerian Baptist Christian, a pastor’s son, whose entire family had been burned to death by Muslims. He described what had happened as ‘their latest pogrom’, the word Yiddish speaking Jews had used to described what happened to them in Russia and Eastern Europe many times down the centuries.
I wondered, how long before pogroms morph into another Holocaust, but this time against the other Biblical people. The Pale of Settlement is now the whole world, and Christians are the targets as well as the Jews. Unlike the Jews, we cannot build a state to protect us. Neither can we sit idly by until it is our turn to be slaughtered or imprisoned.
What do animals do when they are hunted but cannot fight back? They run and they hide. They move their habitation into an environment where they are less exposed, one that disadvantages the hunters and gives them the advantage or transform their environment to achieve the same outcome. They burrow, they use speed, camouflage and barriers. They also make it as costly as they can for the hunters to take them. They use unique capabilities. Where possible they avoid head-on confrontation. In this way, they endure, no matter how numerous the predators.
That sounds like an outline of a strategy to me. We still need to witness, to assist, to do good to all, remembering especially the poor, but we need to be like the ants, to be united, working together and having some places only we can go and hunters cannot follow.
In the end, Islam cannot win – the ideology cannot defeat us. There is only one way to defeat us and that is to destroy all life on earth utterly. That, of course, is the reason why Jesus will return, and His promise sure, for Jesus Himself said, ‘If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened’. [Matt 24:22]. After all, if men and women can blow themselves up for Allah, what is it to blow up the whole world: the only important thing is to satisfy Allah, and ‘surely Allah does not love the unbelievers’, [Qur’an 3:32, 30:45]. Instead, ‘Fight them until . . worship is for Allah.’ [Qur’an 2:193]. God bless you,
President – Jesus Christ for Muslims