Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley opened a recent commentary with these words: "Watching the news in the last few weeks, I couldn't help but wonder: Who let the dogs out? And who decided to sic them on Christians?" Those legitimate questions were raised in response to a recent series of attacks that included obscene cartoons of the Lord published in the University of Virginia's school paper, Rosie O'Donnell's comparison of radical Christianity with radical Islam, NBC's editing of all biblical references out of VeggieTales each Saturday morning, Madonna mocking Christ as she sings suspended from a crucifix, and of course the squelching of Prison Fellowship's InnerChange Freedom Initiative. Indeed, attacks on Christ and His Church are coming fast and furious nowadays.

 

No doubt the sentiment against Christ serves to prove the veracity of Scripture as our Lord Himself declared to us, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you... I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you... If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you... But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me (John 15:18-21)." That these things happen should not surprise us. Rather, it should actually bolster our faith.

 

Of course, we Christians have a wonderful opportunity in the aftermath of such things to put Christ on display and demonstrate the stark contrast between Christ and the world, and indeed Christ and the world as reflected in false religion. For example, when the Pope delivered a speech on faith and reason in a university setting, noting that the propagation of religion through violence is unreasonable because it goes against the nature of God - and at one point citing a medieval reference to the spread of Islam through violent means - it cannot be lost on anyone but Muslims that their response to the Pope's comments was murderous violence. That is the way of Islam, but it is not the way of Christ.

 

Consider Rosie O'Donnell's comments. She asserted that American Christians are as much of a threat to free people as the Jihadists who slammed jetliners into the Twin Towers. In her words, "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state... And as a result of the attack and the killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people we invaded two countries and killed innocent people." O'Donnell implies that Christians influenced the American State to kill innocents in other countries. The further implication with her reference to the separation of church and state is that Christians seek to advance their cause by way of force and violence, and that no one is safe if Christians truly gain control, including American citizens.

 

Let it be said without hesitation that Christ did not kill to advance His cause. On the contrary, He died to save guilty sinners from every people group and religion including Islam. Further, because Christians follow Christ, they do not kill for the advance of the gospel, they die for it. Well attested to is the historical record of martyrs for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and that sacred roll is being added to daily all over the globe.

 

Of course, it is Christians who championed the separation of church and state in this country. Not all Christians of all times have done so, but, the reality is that freedom of religion is grounded in New Testament principles and coercion or force in terms of religion is abhorrent to thinking believers and antithetic to the gospel. The gospel advances through persuasion, not coercion. As Dr. John Piper aptly admonished, we should: