Archives For Persecution

In a brief five minute video posted to Desiring God’s YouTube channel, John Piper rips apart the cultural control of ‘cancel culture’. The small segment was taken from a talk given in January called ‘Serious Joy, Cultural Conflict, & Christian Humility: Thoughts on Christian Education.’

Piper’s argument is one of the best I’ve heard so far from Christian leaders – Voddie Baucham’s lengthy, but poignant takedown of ‘Cultural Marxism being the only exception (as has been discussed by Caldron Pool’s Editor Ben Davis, here).

Like Baucham, Piper turns the light on where few seem willing to do so. Leaning on work from Jonathon Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in their outstanding book, ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ (2018), Piper briefly addresses the non-sequitur, and vacuous subjective nature of the movement. In sum, Haidt and Lukianoff identify ‘cancel culture’ as part of a broader new paradigm which measures good and evil by the yardstick of ‘safe versus dangerous, instead of true versus false.’

Under the authoritarian, whimsical hegemony of ‘cancel culture’, ‘if you take your stand and speak your truth, you may be subject to call-out, outrage, or being cancelled, because you have not sufficiently coddled’ the feelings of others, or sufficiently met any number of asinine politically correct requirements. As Haidt and Lukianoff quip, the response then is one where ‘you must call out [the offence giver]! Assemble a coalition of the righteous, and shame the evil ones until they change their ways.”

As part of their introduction, Haidt writes that ‘cancel culture’ ‘unwittingly employs the very cognitive distortions that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy tries to correct. For example: catastrophizing (jumping the worst possible conclusions), and negative filtering (negative self-talk; such as saying to yourself, “I’ll never amount to anything”). Haidt then notes, ‘stated simply: Many university students are learning to think in distorted ways, and this increases their likelihood of becoming fragile, anxious, and easily hurt.’

Equating ‘cancel culture’ with the persecution of Christians in Acts 5:27-41, Piper supports this appraisal. Just as the ‘Sanhedrin tried to silence the voice of Christian leaders’, so sways the motion and violent conclusions of ‘cancel culture.’ Being easily offended, or a person having their feelings hurt, isn’t enough just-cause to rage at people, call people out, or “cancel” them.

According to Piper, the response to ‘cancel culture’ is ‘serious joy.’ The Apostle Peter, beaten by enraged, and blood-thirsty authorities, ‘rejoiced’ that he and others ‘were counted worthy to suffer dishonour’ for speaking in Jesus Christ’s name; that name having been banned – cancelled – deemed offensive by the authorities.

Piper’s conclusion:

“If you take a stand the culture hates, and speak a word the culture condemns, and they shame you, and persecute you, and plunder you, but your serious joy remains, they’ve lost their power to control where you stand and what you say.
If your joy comes from the world — its benefits, its comforts, its kudos — you’re like a leaf in the wind. Yours is not a serious joy. It’s a secondhand joy. You are not free. Serious joy sets people free. And makes them the most secure and subversive people when it comes to cultural control.
This has always been true, for two thousand years. Serious joy in Christ through pain has always been radically liberating from cultural control. In getting their joy from heaven, Christians become free on earth.”

Piper is right. ‘Cancel culture’ cannot beat ‘serious joy.’ There’s no excuse for our response to be joyless. Humility wins. We speak truth in love, bearing the name of Jesus Christ. Not falling into step with the spirit of the age, but keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, knowing that though, would-be and actual authoritarians may try to cancel us, our work – or even our entire livelihoods – the unconquerable joy gifted to us in Jesus Christ, and the gracious provision God brings with, through, and because of it, cannot, and will not be cancelled.

Extending out from Piper’s final word is this: ‘stand firm in serious joy’ – for the fact that man ‘is not God. We are sinners. We are finite’ (Piper); and though men and women may arrogantly try to control it, for the very fact that ‘man has no control over God’s grace.’ (Karl Barth, CD. 3:4:105).


References:

Full video & transcript: https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/serious-joy-cultural-conflict-and-christian-humility

First published on Caldron Pool, 20th April, 2020

Image cropped & adjusted from a Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2020

Yesterday, Canadian, M.P. and Conservative, Candice Bergen (not to be confused with the American actress of the same name), took the opportunity to make a public statement on behalf of Christians.

In direct contrast to the vicious ambiguity employed by leading Democrats in the United States, who referred to the victims of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, as “Easter Worshippers”, Bergen spoke plainly. The Canadian Conservative M.P. acknowledged that the perpetrators of the attacks were Islamic extremists who had deliberately targeted the Christian community in Sri Lanka.

Addressing the Canadian parliament, Bergen urged the West to take a stand against unprecedented levels of Christian persecution around the world. Included in her brief statement, was an appeal to Western leaders to discontinue their apathetic response to the violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In addition, Bergen said that it was time for Western governments to take active steps against the subtle persecution of Christians living within their borders.

Bergen’s speech also included the fact that,

“Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. They’re targeted by Islamic extremists in countries like Pakistan, Iran and Nigeria; and by Communist regimes in China and North Korea. Here in the West we see a subtle persecution. For example, if you are a Christian in the West and you believe in creation or the teachings of the Bible be prepared to be mocked and ridiculed by many, including some of your own political leaders. And if you have social beliefs based on your Christian convictions you might be denied government funding. This is shameful! And as uncomfortable as it might make some, it must be called out. It’s time we stand up for all religious freedoms. We must lead by example and reject all violence and persecution of people because of their faith and beliefs.”

According to a recent Open Doors USA fact sheet, ‘245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution in 50 countries. The top of this list is North Korea, with Islamic oppression fueling Christian persecution in 8 of the top 10. 1 in 9 Christians experience high levels of persecution worldwide. 4,136 Christians have been killed for faith-related reasons. 2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned, and 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.’

The Sri Lanka bombings killed 250 people (a figure that was rounded down from 290), and injured close to 500 more. Most of who were Christians.

Candice Bergen’s statement to the Canadian parliament appears to be unique among world leaders and journalists, most of whom remain aloof, and silent, in the shadow of an unprecedented level of persecution and hostility towards Christians around the world.

Bergen’s brief statement echoes the boldness of Winston Churchill’s warnings to a sedated and automatically dismissive bureaucratic caste throughout the 1930s. The difference being that the automatic dismissal from such a political caste is now toxically laced with an anti-Christian sentiment, and a blatant, academically seasoned prejudice, (if not outright irrational and hypocritical intolerance) of Christianity.

As Margaret Thatcher, another famous Conservative politician reminded the world following an assassination attempt on her life:

‘Winston Churchill’s warning is just as true now as when he made it many, many years ago:
“Once you take the position of not being able in any circumstances to defend your rights against aggression, there is no end to the demands that will be made nor to the humiliations that must be accepted.”
He knew, and we must heed his warning.’
(“Post-Brighton Bombing”, Speech to Conservatives, 1984)


(Originally published on Caldron Pool, 2nd May 2019: Canadian MP slams Western attitudes towards Christian persecution: “This is shameful!”)

©Rod Lampard, 2019