Wednesday, October 04, 2006

One Without the Other

A person can become a Christian, be a Christian, and practice Christianity in any environment. However, some environments are better than others for becoming a Christian, being a Christian, and practicing Christianity. Christian leaders like to point out how times of trouble and persecution throughout history have been times when the Gospel message has been accepted by many. People do tend to look to God for answers and deliverance when they don’t have any answers of their own. However, people also tend to reject God when they don’t witness or experience the love of God.

If trouble and persecution are all that is necessary for the Gospel to advance, then Russia, Cuba, Cambodia, China, Iraq, Iran, many other countries, and almost all of Africa would be overrun with Christians. Communism may have been a complete failure at creating a prosperous and just society, but it has been very successful at destroying faith in God. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Freedom and faith are very related.

America has gone through some very tough times starting with the first settlers. But, unlike communist countries, Americans have had the freedom to choose and practice Christianity. Most American believers would claim America is great because of the early and on-going Christian influence. It works both ways. Christianity in America is also great [comparatively, not absolutely] because of American style freedom and American style private property rights.

Nowadays, Islam is equal to communism as a threat to freedom throughout the world. Islam wants to use government authority to impose Shariah law. It is important for non-believers to understand this difference between Islam and Christianity. Christianity thrives in an environment of freedom. Islam is a threat to freedom and will only appear to thrive in an environment of control.

The primary goal of the Christian Church is to explain how Christ died so that those who CHOOSE to believe in HIM will have eternal life. A significant part of achieving our goal as Christians is to defend and promote freedom along with private property rights throughout the world. One without the other is only doing part of the job of the Gospel.

5 comments:

blind beggar said...

Gosh, I don’t know David about communism being good at destroying faith in God. The church has been thriving under communism and dictators in areas like Africa and China. And I sure don’t read anything in my Bible about Jesus telling us to go and defend private property rights throughout the world. Sorry if I’m just slow on this, and I’m not attempting to be contentious, but it doesn’t resonate with me at all.

Thanks for letting me comment and may grace and peace be multiplied to you.

David M. Smith said...

Hi blind beggar,

Thank you for commenting. I need to know when I goof. Challenges to what I write are very helpful. Are you a missionary in China? Double thanks for caring about China. I know the Church is active in China, but I suspect you and I have a different definition of "thrive". Less than 1% doesn’t quite make the thrive threshold in my book, but it is a start and it is better than 0%. I predict as the people of China experience the freedom associated with commerce, the Church will continue to grow. However, the government of China will have a lot to say about freedom and the growth of Christianity.

I have to disagree with you about Jesus and private property rights. Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law. The law says God gave us private property rights. “Thy Shall Not Steal” means that believers should not take what belongs to others. If something belongs to others, it is their private property.

Please stop back by and critique a few of my other pieces. I am interested in your perspective.

blind beggar said...

Thanks for commenting back. The current estimate of the Christian population in China ranges from 5 – 10% (80 – 100 million). Some missiologist estimate that at its current growth rate, it could reach 25% in the next fifty years.

We will have to graciously disagree on private property.

David M. Smith said...

Hi again blind beggar,

I should know better by now than to trust my memory. Wikipedia lists the number of Chinese Christians at 4%, but who knows for sure.

Sure we can graciously disagree, but I would like to give this one more shot with you before I give up! : -)

Wikipedia also lists Christianity as the largest religion in South Korea, a country that was almost entirely Buddhist at one point in its history. Christianity Today reported that in the near future, South Korea will have the most missionaries in the world, surpassing even the United States.

I don’t think it is just a coincidence that the two countries in the world with similar governments and similar laws regarding private property also have the largest percentage of Christians and missionaries while the countries without private property protection have the fewest of both.

BTW, I’m not sure I can graciously disagree with you about Africa. I know there are exceptions, but most all of Africa is a horror story made worse by foreign aid with the support of Christianity. Africa is the shame of Christianity in our time, not a success at all.

Please stay tuned and continue to challenge me. My foot is very familiar with my mouth. I am more than willing to learn from others.

Buz said...

David,

Man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks upon the heart. If you equate the "success" of Christianity by the number of people who claim to be Christians in a certain country, then yes, giving them land and lots to eat if they will call themselves christians will lead to success.

But remember in the parable of the sower that there were four types of soil, and the plants sprouted in three of them. However, only one, the one with the good soil where the plants took root and multiplied was the true success.

Let's not forget that the FIRST place that Christianity sprang up was Rome ... where it was against the law and punishable by death not to worship the emperor. It was in that environment of persecution that Christianity originally florished.

I'm sorry, but thinking that we have to export "red" christianity sounds to me like we had better make sure that they are circumcised, too.

We are taking them the very kingdom of God, and you think that we have to "make it better" by adding good-old-American-freedom along with it?

The kingdom of God brings its own inheirent freedom to God's children. At that point, it doesn't make a difference what is going on in this world. Paul didn't tell all the slave owners that they had to let their slaves go, nor did he tell the slaves to run away from their master. He told the owners to treat the slaves like brothers and the slaves to work like they were working for God.

I am proud to be an American, and I praise God for my freedom. But when I tell non-Americans about Jesus, I tell them about Jesus, not that they have to change to a free government to become Christians. We are talking salvation through the blood of Christ, not through the bombs of Congress.

Buz