Does terror and persecution mean we lose our discernment?

Back in the Jerusalem of 40 A.D., if one of the officers of the Roman military occupation force was asked to differentiate between the Jews who followed the “officially sanctioned” Pharisees and rabbis, and the Jews who had accepted Christ as Messiah and Savior, he probably would not have been aware or even cared. To him, they would have all been just Jews, although, from our vantage point, we know the theological differences between the two groups were vitally important.

Similarly, we in the West tend to categorize all the followers of various Eastern religions with the same broad brush although there are many sects of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, with distinctive beliefs that are very important to their devotees.

Yesterday, I listened to a sermon in which the pastor described the current persecution of Christians around the world and especially in the Middle East. It’s understandable that the forces of Al-Qaeda and ISIS would not bother to distinguish between Roman Catholics, followers of Eastern Orthodoxy, and Bible Christians. To them, a Christian is a Christian is a Christian, but genuine followers of Christ cannot be so undiscerning.

Persecution is a tragedy for any group. Masses of people throughout history have suffered due to allegiance to their particular religion. But just because people have suffered terror, pain, and death, does not mean we should embrace error as truth. Jehovah’s Witnesses have endured persecution for one-hundred years in many countries. But, in addition to their heretical Christology, the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach a false gospel of baptismal regeneration and works and I cannot embrace them as Christians. The Mormons have also faced persecution in many countries. I am sorry they have suffered but that does not mean I should disregard our differences. Their heretical Christology and false gospel of baptismal regeneration and works prevents me from embracing them as fellow Christians.

In the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere, groups that claim to be Christian are being targeted by Al-Qaeda and ISIS, including Roman Catholics and adherents of Eastern Orthodoxy. It’s a tragedy that any religious group is targeted for violence. My heart goes out to the children, women, and men who have suffered persecution, torture, and death. But Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy teach a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. They do not teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. According to God’s Word, faithful followers of these churches’ teachings are not Christians, just as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians.

Some say that in the face of persecution, it’s uncharitable to check denominational dog tags. That was the underlying message of the sermon I heard yesterday and that is the regular message of The Voice of the Martyrs para-church organization. Pope Francis has cited Islamic terrorism as a catalyst for (c)hristian unification:

“Let us see this (communion of [c]hristian martyrs) as a call to persevere on our ecumenical journey toward full and visible communion, growing more and more in love and mutual understanding,” the pope challenged an audience back in 2015 (see here).

I’m sorry so many people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs. I’m heartbroken that fellow believers have suffered and died for their faith in Christ. But I know those believers would not want their suffering and death to be used as a means to water down the Gospel of grace. Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox need to accept Christ as Savior as much as the bloodthirsty Muslim terrorists.

Postscript: Both Catholics and Protestants have been guilty of religious persecution in centuries gone by, although it could be successfully argued that the Catholic persecution of Protestants was of a MUCH greater magnitude. State-sanctioned persecution of Protestants continued in Catholic-controlled countries in Europe and Latin America well into the 20th-century (e.g., Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Mussolini’s Italy, inter-war Poland, Vichy France, Pavelic’s Croatia, Dollfuss’ Austria, and Rexist Belgium. Vatican concordats with Latin American countries ensured Protestants in the region were persecuted to some degree).

9 thoughts on “Does terror and persecution mean we lose our discernment?

  1. Such a true and needed message, brother! How unloving can someone be, to suggest these people do not deserve to hear the true Gospel of grace by faith in Christ alone? Do we love the lost so little, and ourselves so much, that we will leave them in darkness just to garner approval of man? Let it never be said of us! Ecumenicism is not just dangerous, it’s spiritually deadly.
    I just read the other day someone suggest in the same post both that Catholics are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and that there’s only one Gospel. There is only one Gospel, but it’s not the gospel RCC’s are teaching.
    This is why I thank God everyday for your work here, brother. Not only are you reaching out to RC’s but your teaching us to do so as well. I feel much more confident, today, to speak lovingly to a lost Catholic about Christ than I did a few months ago. I don’t know if you ever feel discouraged, or wonder if you’ve made an impact. Just in case, I feel the need to constantly remind you that you have!
    Ecumenicism is a global monster, no brother should have to fight it on his own. I am daily taught, edified, and encouraged by your stand against. Keep running your race, good and faithful servant!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, sister! You’re exactly right, not only does ecumenism leave the Catholic in chains, it blurs the Gospel for the believer until they accept pretty much anything. What if the Christians who witnessed to me at work back in the early 80s had been compromised by ecumenism?

      As I wrote this post, I was fully aware that most believers would not welcome it, that it would seem too “harsh” in light of the persecution many are suffering. I would guess that most believers would feel more affinity for pope Francis’ message that I quoted than for my viewpoint. So thank you for the uplifting words once again. We have no choice but to speak the truth.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brother, you made a good argument beginning with your example of the Roman occupying force persecuting Jews and Christians at times indiscriminately…but that doesn’t mean Christians and unsaved Jews join forces or say Christian must support the Jewish rebellion against Rome, etc. Very well put Tom! And it certainly applies to the situation today with Romainism, Eastern Orthodoxy, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Jim. It was a difficult subject to write about without sounding callous to the great sufferings of many people. But we do no one any favors by muddying the Gospel.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I noted you used an image of the aftermath slaughter inside coptic church egypt… Am not sure about what you state though absolutely sure there is a watered down propaganda aka new world order religion being pushed around the world. Re: ‘Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox need to accept Christ as Savior as much as the bloodthirsty Muslim terrorists’ Many do believe in Jesus in both religions but are blinded & in bondage to the religious stuff. Also Muslims acknowledge Jesus as a prophet and do not mock him nor the virgin birth… They are so close to the truth yet so far away at the same time…
    In this absolutely beautiful video (sans the murder) you see Copts praying to Jesus before they are slaughtered… These are our brothers in Christ well they are mine! This is faith… As for religous affiliation it becomes irrelevant. If they refused to renounce Jesus and are prepared to die for their faith = Christians. Ultimately only God knows the heart and spirit of a man/woman… It is a tad arrogant to dismiss Christ martyrs because of religious affiliations that are corrupted.

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    1. RE: It is a tad arrogant to dismiss Christ martyrs because of religious affiliations that are corrupted.

      Many people over the centuries have died in the name of Christ, yet they never personally accepted Him as their Savior. They were trying to merit their salvation through their institutional (c)hristianity. I am not a fan of denominationalism as you accuse me. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and the Narrow Way of salvation, by grace through faith in Christ as Savior alone.
      https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-only-way.html

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  4. Just some stuff for your perusal if you have time… God and life is way more complex than what i think maybe you realise re religions. When Israel (the Zionist regime) tried to invade Lebanon and failed both Muslims and Christians in army of Allah aka Hezbollah fought side by side against the murderous Israel. A Christian sings of this… This be a very famous song – the second part is the letter…

    Atallah Hanna fights for both Muslim and Christians right Gaza He is Orthodox Christian & respected by both Muslims and Christians..

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