Dr. Gary Cass, President and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, says that 2007 was a high-watermark year for “Christian Bashing,” which (by the way) is the title of his new book. As a partial means of proof, Gary offers seven significant offenses, including the deliberate execution of 4 believers in Colorado, the attacks on Jerry Falwell literally hours after his passing, CNN’s “God’s Warriors,” and others.
More subtle perhaps, as mentioned in my most recent blog, was the use of the word “evangelical” in TV caucus and primary election coverage, invoked to minimize “Preacher” Mike Huckabee’s success in Iowa, and to lump every person of faith into one group, for the singular purpose of dismissing their beliefs and influence with a single, broad brushstroke.
There is little doubt that attacks on Christians and their faith are on the rise, and will only increase over time. Such invective is to be expected, of course; Jesus makes it quite clear throughout the gospels that his followers will suffer such, and much more, for His Name’s sake. The Truth we hold dear is a source of outrage for those who do not, or will not, believe. What’s in question is how believers should respond.
Of course, 1 Peter 3:15-16 offers a good foundation. We should always be ready to give a reason for the hope within us. But we are to do so with gentleness and respect, that those who persecute us would be put to shame. This is of great importance, as a new generation of young people often cites the inconsistent behavior of Christians as a stumbling block to their belief.
Some might be tempted to do nothing about Christian bashing. After all: isn’t it praiseworthy to silently and passively endure persecution? I might be tempted to agree, if not for the response of Jesus Himself to such attacks. In Matthew 12, as He cast out a demon, the local religious leaders claimed that Jesus was doing so “by (the authority of) Beelzebub.” In John 8, it was a racial slur—“Samaritan.” In Luke 7, our Lord was called a “glutton and drunkard, the friend of tax collectors and sinners!” In each circumstance, Jesus offered a response…not a threat of physical violence, not a smarmy or heated retort, but instead…a firm but gentle rendering of the truth, no matter how difficult it was for the hearer to receive.
So how should we respond to the rise of “Christian bashing?” Not with self-righteous, angry words, but by listening respectfully to the heart of the accuser, without judgment or prejudice. By living consistently, what it is we profess with our mouths to believe. And by gently, but resolutely, standing on the Truth that makes men free.