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Oxburgh priest holeIf you visit Oxburgh Hall in England you can tour one of the ancient country houses occupied without break since 1482 by one of the most venerable Catholic families in England. Last summer, while leading a pilgrimage to England with Joseph Pearce, we visited the hall and not only met Sir Henry Bedingfeld—the current baronet—but celebrated Mass for the pilgrims in the ancient family chapel. This was not before Joseph and I discovered the priest hole.

For those not in the know, a “priest hole” is the secret chamber where, during the anti-Catholic Elizabethan regime, priests would hide from the Queen’s agents. Under Elizabeth it was a capital crime to celebrate Mass, and any Catholic priest who was captured was sentenced to execution as a traitor, which meant being hung, drawn, and quartered. Elizabeth’s England was a police state with rules and penalties worse than Stalinist Russia. Spies were everywhere, and the priests, who traveled underground using aliases, disguises, and secret codes, were usually betrayed by spies who had infiltrated the underground Catholic community.

The priest holes were devised ingeniously, many of them by the amazing Saint Nicholas Owen. Owen was a dwarf and a Jesuit lay brother. He was also a master carpenter. Some priest holes were no more than a narrow space below floorboards where the priest would lie entombed. Others were elaborate and clever hiding places—false walls, hidden trapdoors, collapsible stair risers, and crevices in chimneys behinds fireplaces. Because the soldiers would search the house until the betrayed priest was found, the priest holes were sometimes equipped with emergency food, water and primitive privies. Sometimes holes drilled in the panelling would provide access for a straw through which a loyal servant would pour broth and water to sustain the priest.

Longenecker & Pearce

The author and Mr. Pearce

The priest hole at Oxbrugh is especially clever. The house’s provision for sewage was effective, if simple. Toilets were built in the towers that extended over the moat, and waste simply dropped into the waters below. To get into the priest hole at Oxborogh one climbs down a narrow passage built beneath the toilet seat. The low chamber is just big enough for two men to be seated. I will never forget sitting in the ancient stone chamber—like a sixteenth-century English catacomb—and whispering to Joseph, “Almost certainly two priests once sat here praying the rosary and waiting to be discovered, captured and taken to be tortured and killed.” The emotion was high. Joseph said back, “Let us sing the Salve Regina.” So we said a Paternoster and sang the ancient tender homage to Mother Mary, and after all was done and we clambered out, the rest of the tourists who were visiting the house were spellbound. “We heard ancient Latin being sung and didn’t know where it was coming from! We thought we were hearing the disembodied voices of martyred saints!”

In a sense they were. Not that Mr. Pearce and I are saints, but we sat where they sat. We shared the same faith and we love the same sacred heart. The Salve Regina was the same hymn they sang, and our voices echoing with theirs brought home the point that priest holes are holy because they are the echo chambers of the faith. Persecution has always been part of the bargain in following Christ, and at all times in some place or another since the resurrection of the Lord of Life, his faithful children have been persecuted, captured, imprisoned, tortured and finally killed for their faith.

We continued our pilgrimage more soberly aware that persecution of Christians around the world has never been more acute. There were more martyrs for the faith in the twentieth century than in all the other centuries combined, and the wave of hatred for Christ and his children is not abating. John Allen’s brilliant book, The Global War on Christians outlines the continued, worldwide persecution of Christians in a range of different ways and by different enemies of Christ.

the-priest-holeAllen points out that this global attack on Christians happens at many different levels. It begins with social isolation, mockery or blasphemy and moves on to financial and social persecution—in which Christians loses their jobs or their tax-exempt status, may be denied permission to build a church, school or monastery, or have property confiscated. Persecution is a regular part of life in many parts of Africa, India, the Far East, and Middle East. Neither is persecution of minority Christian communities just a “Muslim problem.” Christians are persecuted by atheist regimes, criminal gangs, and military dictators, but also by members of other religions, other ethnic groups, and even other “Christians.”

Jesus warned his disciples, “Unless you take up your cross and follow me you cannot be my disciple.” Indeed, persecution has been so much a part of Christian history that it would be fair to suggest that for a Christian community not to be persecuted is the unusual circumstance. If the United States has been free of such persecution for the first two centuries of her history, it is arguable that it was only because of the strong Christian foundation of the country and the Christian faith of the founding fathers. As that faith continues to erode, we should not be surprised when Christians are perceived as “extremists”—and if “religious extremists” then potential terrorists and enemies of the state, and once they are perceived as the enemy, the scapegoating dynamic will kick in and there will be no argument.

When that starts to happen, may God gives us some Nicholas Owens who know how to build priest holes, for some of us will need them.

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30 replies to this post
  1. I wonder if this fretting about future persecution amongst American Christians is healthy. I can’t help but think that this issue is related to current enthusiasm for Donald Trump amongst a large number of evangelicals. Trumps’s Christian bona fides are ,shall we say, questionable. Yet, he has promised to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to protect Christians (from what isn’t exactly clear). If Christians truly believe that they may soon be facing government inspired oppression, it would make sense to support a strong man figure who will fight for their interests. this hardly seems like a healthy development.
    Let’s be careful with our rhetoric. We enjoy a form of religious liberty in this country that is in no way normative. This liberty entails certain responsibilities. End of lecture.

    • As a Christian, I and many others stay well clear of Trump and are as mystified as you are at how so many can be so duped. Some such as Max Lucado are speaking out so we aren’t all blithely lining up along side him nor are we a solid, unthinking voting block but free thinking individuals.
      As for not being exactly clear on why Christians are fearful, you only have to see the news reports of a business being taken to court and heavily fined or closed down for refusing to participate in a same sex wedding under so called “tolerance” laws. These same laws are opening bathrooms to trans-gendered people, public schools are forcing students to attend “diversity” meetings without contacting their parents.
      Atheist organizations like Freedom From Religion attack small communities through litigation to remove some religious symbol. These defendants usually don’t have the resources for a prolonged fight and choose to remove the object while the FFR crows about their “victory”.
      For eight years this Administration has interpreted “freedom of religion” to mean that one can practice ones faith in the home or place of worship but NOT in public or in the way one lives his daily life.
      Absolutely, lets watch our rhetoric but at the same time lets not be patronizing and think there isn’t any troubling evidence of religious oppression.

  2. I really can’t get all that worked up about bakeries that refuse to bake cakes for homosexuals weddings. They should , I suppose, have the right not to do so. Yet, I wonder why we don’t hear about similar instances involving confectioners refusing to sell cakes to divorcees who are getting remarried. We should remember that while Jesus never specifically talked about homosexuality, he had quite a bit to say about divorce and it was all negative. Yet contemporary Christians tend not to be particularly passionate about this issue (perhaps because it hits too close to home).
    I also question the wisdom of getting too emotional about symbols in the public square. First, this was clearly not a matter of concern for Jesus or the early Christians. Second, it can lead too a situation where Christians believe that their primary task is to uphold American civil religion. This is not in keeping with the demands of the gospel.
    whatever one thinks of specific Transgender issues, I would hope we could al agree that these folks often face a degree of ridicule and hostility that should make a Christian blanche. Maybe we should worry less about “Bathroom Bills”, and more about how to serve these folks in sacrificial love.
    It is very hard to live ones daily life as a Christian. that is not due to government oppression ,real or imagined, but to the demands of the sermon on the mount.
    There is a great book called “Myth of a Christian Nation” by pastor Gregory Boyd that deals with many of these controversies in a convincing and biblical manner.

    • You saying that Christ never talked about homosexuality is an interesting deflection, He also did not talk directly about other sins as well, so are they allowed merely because Christ didn’t list them in the Gospel?
      You seem to forget God also spoke through the Apostle Paul who DID address it.

      About divorce, yes, you are absolutely right, Christ condemned it except under certain circumstances.
      And what did man do? he ignored Christ and look at the nuclear family now.

      Christians once WERE “passionate” about speaking against divorce but they were condemned as being hard hearted and accused for not, as you put it, “serving the people in sacrificial love.”
      Now it’s become acceptable. So if two people could divorce and remarry, why not just live together, and if a union between a man and woman could be so diluted why not define marriage any way society decides at the moment?

      I suggest that is why Christ mentions divorce because the division of a family is a pebble dropped in a pond and the effect spreads outward until relativism became the norm and God’s truth is deemed “hate speech”. Society is where it is now because of continued lukewarm Christianity and the fact we caved about divorce.

      So where do Christians finally draw the line Adam? Are we not commanded to be salt as well as light?

      I agree about symbols not being of importance in faith but what IS important is the principle of them, the RIGHT of public displays of faith as guaranteed under the Constitution.
      As Paul used his Roman citizenship for protection and to spread God’s Word, so must we as citizens use the law in the same way as well. Because we are Christians doesn’t lessen our rights as citizens under the law. And just because YOU can’t get all “worked up” about a business refusing to participate in a SSM ceremony doesn’t make it any less important to those forced by an unfair law to be involved against their beliefs. It’s been proven not only that most of the companies had done business with the complainants in the past and only refused service when it came to a wedding but that the tolerance laws are directly aimed at Christians only, no one else has been subject to it.

      Psychologists once diagnosed homosexuality and trans-gender as a mental illness to be treated but now modern philosophy sees man as an organism being acted upon by biological and social forces, rather than created by God in His image as an agent with a free will capable of resisting sin.
      With that delusional secular mindset it’s not difficult to imagine what other temptations of the flesh will be “normalized” in the future.

      Brother, I do strongly agree with you that it is hard to live up to Christ’s example. I thank Him continually for His matchless love, understanding and Grace.

      It was me that Paul described when he wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”

      Please don’t misunderstand, My salvation lies in the Gospel not in the Constitution and man made laws.

      I agree we must love others and too often Christians come on like Pharisees. We must teach the Gospel and have a climate of confession by teaching the Cross, to measure ourselves not against each other but against Christ, speaking candidly of how it changed our lives, not judging but bowing at the Cross and saying to others ” I know, I have my demons too, C’mon there’s room. there’s room here for you too.
      But we must share the true Gospel , the Gospel of repentance, not the watered down variety that makes one feel good and doesn’t require change, where nothing has consequences, not even death

    • Jesus specifically addressed marriage and divorce because He was asked to. There were two schools of Jewish thought on this issue, Shammai and Hillel. Which one would this new rabbi side with?

      Homosexuality in Jewish culture was a no-brainer, so it wasn’t an issue in the gospels. In the pagan world, it was much more common, so the apostles, who dealt with the Gentiles much more, had to take this on.

      I invited a gay man into my dorm room during half-time to dry off during a rainy college football game, for my dorm was close to the stadium. I would do it again. I wouldn’t let him soak because he’s gay, not then, not now. Yet I would not perform a gay marriage ceremony, as there is no such thing as gay marriage according to the biblical definition of marriage, and God created marriage, we didn’t. I don’t consider that hateful, only biblical.

    • “I really can’t get all that worked up about bakeries that refuse to bake cakes for homosexuals weddings. ”

      Well, you should. The punishment being imposed is extreme, the goal being to drive them out of business entirely. Left wing hate is real. What are you going to do about it?

      • Eric, you’re right. Even under the strictest biblical standard, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the punishment should fit the crime. Don’t bake a cake, fine them $300. It’s wrong to fine them at all, but at least have some type of equitable punishment if you really want to push it.

        The Kleins were fined over $100,000. A web site set up for people to help them pay the fine was shut down quickly, as it was “hate speech”. You’ve GOT to be kidding me. There is still a way to help them. Now speed through a school zone. What’s the fine? And which is more dangerous?

  3. Well brother Brian, you certainly know how to challenge a guy. When Paul talked about same sex relations in Romans, he seemed to be discussing a rather bizarre situation in which heterosexual men were behaving in a homosexual fashion as a way to openly rebel against God. Paul certainly didn’t have in mind long term, committed and loving same sex relationships.

    I have to question whether the church’s past position on divorce was a challenge to the culture or a way of acquiescing the culture. I’m also not sure that the church’s treatment of divorcees ,particularly women, represented its finest hour. This seems to be changing. My understanding is that at the Willow Creek megachurch in Chicago, the best parking spaces are reserved for divorced women. to use a theological term, I think that’s kind of cool.

    I’m VERY uncomfortable with any talk about homosexuality being a mental illness (or a “lifestyle” choice). At the very least, I would think we should be able to agree with the Catholic teaching that homosexual orientation is immutable (regardless of what we think of homosexual practice.).

    The question of where we draw the line is probably above my pay scale. In the struggle to achieve a balance between being salt and light, two suggestions come to mind. The first is from the late Chuck Colson: Be hard where the world is soft, and soft where the world is hard. The second suggestion was made by Tony Campolo: Love the sinner. Hate your own sin.

    • My reading of Romans is a bit different from yours, I missed that part about God saying it was okay as long as it was a “long term, loving and committed relationship”. 😉

      When or if the time comes and incest, polygamy and pedophilia are deemed permissible by man’s society under the same proviso what will you say?

      You may smile but recall what happened to Israel in the Book of Judges everyone chose what was right in his own eyes and relativism doesn’t allow one to pick and choose much less judge what lifestyle is right and which is wrong..

      As G.K Chesterson wrote “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

      You don’t have to worry about where to draw the line. We have the Bible which is God breathed and defines marriage as being between a man and woman. As for homosexual practice being immutable, so is my orientation to bed every woman I see despite my vows of marriage and God’s command not to commit adultery. By ignoring the idea that we face temptation to sin that can and should be resisted, it denies the very qualities that separates us from the animals.

      Yeah, it’s difficult, Christ said it would be, “for Narrow is the road that leads to life.” (Matt. 7:13) .

      Thank you God for Grace.

      Please NEVER think I believe that homosexuality is somehow a greater sin. Sin is SIN period.
      Remember what I wrote about having a culture of confession, teaching the Cross, that makes us all equal in stature and also equal in our unworthiness to receive Christ’s Grace “for it is by grace that you have been saved through faith and it is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God not by works so none may boast.” (Eph.2: 8-9)

      Sadly there are those who put themselves above others whether like the Pharisees or who think one sin is greater than another. They need to be reminded of what Christ taught in Matthew 7: 21-23.

      But remember also that if you have contextualized the Gospel so everybody likes it…you aren’t teaching the true Gospel.
      Christianity has always been COUNTER cultural not mainstream To speak of Grace without mentioning sin, to not teach redemption and repentance not only cuts the nerve of the gospel but reduces it, cheapens the price of Grace, which was Christ taking our sins upon himself on the cross . It’s not supposed to be easy for we are denying ourselves, we are each bearing our own crosses.

      Really like your two quotes, thanks for sharing them. I’m a great admirer of Chuck Colson, both I plan to write down and save.

      • I side with you on this, Brian. “Paul certainly didn’t have in mind long term, committed and loving same sex relationships.” Really? I’d like to see the verses on that.

        Here’s my take: Gen. 19; Ex. 20:12; Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Deut. 23:17; Judg. 19:22-23; 1 Ki. 14:24, 15:12, 22:46; 2 Ki. 23:7; Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-8; Luke 17:28-29; Rom. 1:26-27, 9:29; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Pet. 2:6; Jude 7. Need I say more?

  4. Since we both admire Colson, I will quote ,or paraphrase, from him again. He said that Christianity was designed to be counter cultural. It often times has become mainstream. That is why in this country some churches experienced no difficulty in supporting slavery, and ,later, segregation. As Christians we need to constantly interrogate ourselves as to whether we are conforming to biblical standards or societal norms (I don’t mean to be preachy).

    Do you draw any distinctions between homosexuals inside and outside the church? When it comes to the former we should expect them to adhere to certain behaviors and teachings (the same obviously holds true for heterosexual Christians). As for homosexuals outside the church, I agree with Gregory Boyd that we should just love them and shut up

    Pastor Ed Dobson seems to be model for this. Dobson was a one time spokesman for the Moral Majority. When he returned to the pulpit he realized that ,when it came to gays, he was far better at hating the sin than he was at loving the sinner. Dobson began volunteering with HIV-positive gay men. Over time he was able to build loving relationships, despite his belief that homosexual conduct is sinful.

    A few of his parishioners were a little queasy about this aspect of Dobson’s ministry. One church member inquired as to whether any of the men being served were going to attend their church. Dobson replied that they were most welcome to come and that they would fit in well alongside the proud and the gossipy.

    • I believe it was a Christian, William Wilberforce that was credited largely with abolishing slavery in Great Britain, Explorer/missionary /Doctor David Livingstone helped abolish the slave trade in Africa and the anti slavery Abolitionist movement in America was an organized Christian movement as well. Christians marched with Civil Rights groups in the 1960s. Today, Christians are against abortion and take the same kind of heat as the anti slavers did, for it too was legal in it’s time and slaves were also believed to be less than human.
      So throughout history up to today, Christianity has not always been negative.

      I take your point about Boyd’s quote but there’s a difference between loving and placating, something Ed Dobson was able to find a happy medium it seems.

      I do find it ironic though that the same LGBT activists that demanded we stay out of their lives are fixated to put themselves in ours AND through direct government intervention not the vote. But belay that.

      I have friends who are gay, I hesitate to admit it, not because I’m ashamed but because I don’t want it construed as being defensive or appeasing. They are my friends, they love me as I am and I love them the same.

      I think the worse thing ever to happen to Christianity was that it became the state religion under Constantine and thus a political tool instead of a simple, individual walk with Christ. Been that way ever since.

      I believe Western style Christian worship owes too much to pagan influences, the Protestant Reformation didn’t go far enough, it’s still over loaded with legalism and traditions that for some take away the more personal, 1st Century way of worshiping Christ,
      I will still attend a traditional church and I see nothing wrong in worshiping that way unless the tradition is viewed as the only “proper” way.
      I think the Ana Baptists and the Mennonites were on to something.
      So it’s gone from two simple rules taught by Christ, Love God with all your heart and will, Love your neighbor as yourself to these Super Bowl extravaganzas.

      May I recommend PAGAN CHRISTIANITY by Frank Viola and George Barna, it introduces what I’ve been writing about.

      The Gospel can fit any culture any people,too often the mistake was trying to shoe horn the Western European way of worship onto non Europeans. As it says in the 4th Chapter of John: Worship in Spirit and in Truth.

      • A very slight correction. Many people think that Christianity became a state religion under Constantine. It did not. It was simply legalized, so that you could be a Christian or a pagan. There was true freedom of religion. Later in the same fourth century, Emperor Theodosius established or mandated Christianity for the Roman Empire, really bringing the church into the marriage of church and state called Christendom. Pagans were persecuted. It was a new ball game, so to speak.

        A minor correction. But I still enjoy your comments, Brian.

        • Thank you Howard, I never mind being corrected when it’s done with respect. As you previously stated so well: “That’s what I like about this forum there’s civil discourse…”

          • I’m posting this not really to correct you, but to correct a common misconception in Christianity. It is simply copied from a pdf transcript of Lesson 13, Cappadocians and Constantinople, in Ancient and Medieval Church History, by David Calhoun at Covenant Seminary. You may get onto Covenant’s website and look this up, although you’ll need to provide a password to get past the first few lectures of each class.

            “We need to think of one other emperor in the fourth century. The three big names in the fourth century
            are Constantine, Julian, and Theodosius. There were other emperors, but those are the important ones. Theodosius became emperor in 379. With Theodosius we have another important change. Constantine had simply legalized Christianity. Theodosius established Christianity as the only official religion of the
            Roman Empire. By the time we come to Theodosius at the end of the fourth century, the tables are
            totally turned. At the beginning of the century, Christians were outlawed and persecuted. By the end of the century, Christianity was established and the pagans were persecuted. Theodosius destroyed the
            pagan temples. He passed laws against heresies. So it was not only necessary to be a Christian, but also to be an orthodox Christian. With Theodosius we move into a period that we can call “Christendom,” in which state and religion are very closely allied, and in which laws will prohibit the practice of other religions or even the practice of heretical Christianity. Christendom extends all the way to the time of the Reformation and beyond.”

  5. This is an excellent article.

    Aaron and Melissa Klein were fined something like $130,00 for not baking one cake. Call that fair? They spoke in our church in Texas. What they told us is illegal to say in their home state of Oregon, where it’s considered hate speech. A fire chief in Atlanta gets fired for what he wrote for Sunday school, not his fire department. Two brothers about to make a mint on a TV show about flipping houses lose that right when their Christian views on marriage come out. Yes, we’re getting persecuted here. In India, Christians are being slaughtered by the thousands, so it’s worse elsewhere.

    Here’s my take on this. Know what a chiasm is? There are plenty in the Bible. I wonder if church history is a chiasm. The Church started out with around 10% of the Jews living in Judea (there was no such word as Palestine until the second century), persecuting the Christians at first, with the civil government coming to the Christian’s aid. Then Jewish power diminished with the destruction of Jerusalem, but soon the emperors persecuted the Church. Then came Constantine, and Christianity became safe. Later came Theodosius, and Christianity became established or mandated. And so Christianity, or at least that marriage of Christianity and the state that we call Christendom, has been relatively safe for centuries in Christian areas, despite the bloodshed accompanying the Reformation.

    Now we’re going back to where we started. The Jews are back in Israel in much higher numbers and world-wide percentages than they were at the time of Christ. Despite very little persecution of the Church by the Jews, the Church is running into disfavor with the world. In many but not all ways, it’s back to the first century.

    Despite the mispredicted dates of the rapture and the Second Advent, and all those guesses about who will be the antichrist, let’s consider this chiastic pattern as we think about our future.

  6. Read Luke 17:26-29. In Noah’s day, “they married wives, they were given in marriage”. There’s nothing about marriage in the days of Lot.

    There is no gay marriage in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t forbid it, for it doesn’t exist, so it can’t be forbidden. There is not one word justifying loving homosexual relationships.

    With the sexual revolution of the 1960’s behind us, it’s no longer safe for our kids. With the homosexual revolution getting off the ground now, sooner or later, there will be no place safe for adults. Check out Genesis 19 for what these loving relationships turn into. Judges 19 should be another eye-opener.

    One pastor told us that this whole issue is side-tracking us. The real issue is removing God from the public sphere. And yes, if some guy feels like a lady some day, he may go into the same rest room that my wife is using. He’s free to be what he wants, right? Yet she’s not free to use a ladies room that’s just for ladies.

    Christianity ran into Caesar-worship within a few decades of the birth of the Church. You could worship any way you wanted, but you had to burn incense to Caesar. These days, we have to burn incense to the god of tolerance. Ever hear how hateful people can be yelling “No more hate” when someone actually does not tolerate perversion?

    Eric Holder told 50 state attorneys general that they didn’t have to enforce a law if it went against their conscience, according to what I heard on the news. One lady actually did this by not signing a gay marriage certificate, and it became national news, as she’s put in jail “until she changes her mind”.

    Yes, some spheres of Christianity have been a bit intolerant at times. People still debate about the Crusade and the Inquisition. All I learned in Hebrew school about them was that these institutions killed Jews. But persecution is intensifying in our country, and we had better recognize it in its subtle forms.

  7. One last comment for now. In 1980, I had the privilege of hearing Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand speak. Richard took his shoes off and put his feet up on a sleeping bag on the stage as he sat and talked to a thousand people. He had a look of pain on his face as he positioned his feet. I spoke to Sabina for several seconds as she was selling her books afterwards. Read some of their writings, especially “Tortured for Christ”.

  8. I really envy you getting to hear Richard and Sabrina Wurbrand. I support VOICE OF THE MARTYRS.
    I read TORTURED FOR CHRIST several years ago and still have the same worn, highlighted copy.
    It’s as relevant today as it was then. Especially the section where Richard writes about main stream churches colluding with the Communist regimes to a point where Pastors informed on their members.
    The inspiring rise of the underground Church is something we also need to take note of, for a day may come soon where it’ll be needed here.

    • Yes, it will be needed here, at least to some degree.

      Where we live now, there’s an NDO, a non-discrimination ordinance. A pastor can be fined $500 a day for telling his congregation what the biblical definition of marriage is. We used to go to a church where the pastor would face the camera (his sermons are on the internet), and tell us the liability of what he was about to say. Our mayor is a Christian, and I have yet to hear of this NDO ever being enforced, but it’s on the books. If I remember right, it was an 8-3 vote that passed it.

      Folks, this is the USA! In our case, it’s the Bible belt, really! Ministers can be made criminals by what they say. The pulpit is being censored. At least it’s not as bad as Houston, where the lesbian mayor tried to subpoena pastoral sermons.

  9. Brian, I certainly wasn’t arguing that Christian history has been all negative, far from it. The world would be a bleak place indeed without the salt and light of the Christian faith. My point was that ,at times, SOME Christians have taken positions that had far more to do cultural climate they were living in than with a serious examination of the bible and church tradition. By pointing this out, I in no way meant to disparage the heroism of people like Wilberforce and Livingstone.

    Howard, if I’m not mistaken Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand suffered under the Communist regime in Romania. I spent a few days in Romania in the summer of 1989, about six months before the dictator Nicolae Ceasescu was overthrown and executed. The regime was hellish even by Marxist-Leninist standards (this was made evident by the fact that you actually had Romanians defecting into still Communist Hungary).
    To in any way compare the experience of Christians in a free society like the United States to what Christians ,and others, faced in Romania is not so much comparing apples to oranges, but apples to bricks. It greatly trivializes the Romanian experience.

    • I was comparing the Wurmbrands’ experience to the original post, not to conditions in the USA. But their writings also show just how bad persecution can get.

      And we’re not such a free society any more. When a person can go to prison for publicly doubting the safety of the food supply, as it’s a felony for doing that in Colorado (unless that law has been changed); when a couple in Oregon can’t even express their opinion back home about what marriage is and why they shouldn’t be help liable for refusing to bake a cake; when SLAPP suits threaten to drive people into poverty for simply speaking in the public forum; then I realize that we’re free relative to China, but not to our own country in my younger days.

    • I didn’t think you were Adam and I ask your pardon, I guess it was a knee jerk reaction coming from regularly countering all the revisionist history that my nieces and nephews are taught these days. But as I said, Christianity sure wasn’t presented in a good light when forced on others at the end of a sword.

      I don’t think Howard meant to trivialize the Romanian Christian experience as much as he meant to sound a warning that Christians here in the West need to realize that what happened in Central Europe could very easily happen again if we continue to confuse coexisting with appeasement and dilution of truth.

  10. Howard, I clearly misinterpreted your comment about the Wurmbrands and I apologize. Whatever our (hopefully friendly) differences on these issues, I appreciate you bringing up their experiences. I t is important that the crimes of Communism not be forgotten in our largely ahistorical culture. I am going to try to find my own copy of Tortured for Christ.

    • No problem. That’s what I like about this forum: there’s civil discourse, even in the midst of differing opinions and an occasional misunderstanding.

      Now can anybody tell me how to get my photo on this site? I have no social networking sites, so maybe I won’t be able to. Thanks.

  11. “Never in the history of the world have there been so many civilized tenderhearted souls…..Don’t you know where tenderness leads….To the gas chambers.” (Father Smith in The Thanatos Syndrome)

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