I have a question to pose before anyone who might find this blog. Do you feel persecuted for your beliefs? Do you feel that the challenges of the everyday world press back the ideals of your particular doctrine of faith? There is a reason that I ask because for years I assembled with the tight-knit groups of followers known as Evangelical Christians. I was consumed by the doctrinal beliefs of several different denominations within this circle and I was a complete believer in every iota of the faith that was preached. In this time of my youth, I was ready to throw myself on a grenade for them…and for the faith. Yet, in all of that, I was either insulated by the fellowship of other believers or it was a non-existent problem. This problem of persecution was nothing that I felt. So, I ask if anyone can truly explain where and when this persecution occurs.
Now, it was evident that secular world views did have a way of existing around us at those times. They were like the forest outside the walls of the city. A deep, dense area teaming with life and danger is what we saw. Our leaders would come to us with warnings and cautious statements meant to prepare us for the day that we would have to travel to another city. Our faith would have to be our armor and shield against the vicious creatures that used the temptations as natural weapons. The warnings were taken to heart, but I never felt that the forest was ever going to penetrate the defenses of the walled city of fellowship. Could it be that this is what was meant by persecution? Could it be that we were imprisoned behind our moral defenses and the forest never allowed us to roam? If so, then the truth should be that it was not the secular world trying to destroy our faith, but that it was the true challenge of how to step forth and integrate with the world and make it better by our example? Was it not Jesus who went to the poor and sick outside of society to save them?
By the way, the term secular has come to be placed with the idea of the worldly views. It is a separation from religious views. What is interesting about this is that historically, before Christianity blossomed into a legal faith, secular games, which were celebrations held on a centennial basis usually in a pagan setting. So, as society evolved in the West into a more Christian-friendly setting and pagan ceremonies were absorbed and converted, the term of the secular was applied to the matters outside the religious side. A curious matter, such as something this simple, can draw out more questions.
Consider what it is you believe when you make the statements of persecution. Historically, we can turn to the end of Christian persecutions from a secular world as ending on a grand scale with the actions of Domitian. He was attempting to find a foothold for holding power, but his persecutions gave rise to the notion of his successors making allies of the Christians until Constantine legalized the faith and helped to canonize the texts. But, this was just an end to persecution of the innocent faith of Christianity. What were to follow would be wars of conflict over lands and resources in the name of God or the internal conflicts of Church with those of differing doctrines. The Reformation brought on a new type of persecution that was from the Church in Rome and England that pressed those rebels into fleeing into the New World. Perhaps this is the persecution that some consider being a War on Christianity.
So, back to the experiences of my own path, it was during the end of my teens that I felt the first time that my beliefs led me to persecution. It was not from some crazed secular group. It was not some dark temptation sent to test me from Old Scratch. I was forced to make a choice between one denomination and my own. The faith was the same, but the doctrine was a little different on its own. Yet, it was not exactly the doctrine that created my biggest persecution. What it became was a show that the overall belief in a single entity was not as important as what group of people you were associated with. No Jesus was the same. It was a fracture in the unity of belief that cracked. I was suddenly the outsider because I was not part of their crowd.
However, I didn’t just toss all of it out the window, but I moved to find the truth. I spent the last twenty years looking for the answers. I studied all the Western religious and their histories. I delved into a new world of seeing the religious from their roots and came to appreciate what they were in the context of the writing. Recently, I have started to learn Ancient Greek to go with my Classical Latin so that my understanding can open up further. I am still searching for the answers as to why.
This leads me back to the simple point that raises my ire every time I hear it. When I hear some Christian group cry out that they are under persecution, I look beyond to find the source of this persecution. What I find makes my point better than I could ever say. A group that has come to this country originally to have freedom of religion has become their own worst enemy as they are often the source of suppressing the freedom of religion for others including some of their own. Wake up!! Stop this madness as it is the source of the trouble that gives one reason to proclaim one’s self a martyr. Of course, preparation for martyrdom does seem to be in the history of these particular faiths. Martyrdom is not what this world needs. We need strong people to stand up and unite behind the true ideals of cognizance and liberality.