A Note From Our Editor: The New Age Of Christian Martyrdom -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 08:3 (Jan 2011)
Article: A Note From Our Editor: The New Age Of Christian Martyrdom
Author: John Warwick Montgomery

A Note From Our Editor:
The New Age Of Christian Martyrdom

John Warwick Montgomery

Among the so-called “new atheists” it is common to rail against Christianity for its persecution of dissidents—the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the 17th-century witchcraft trials. To be sure, there are definitive refutations of these critiques (see, as but a single illustration, my treatment of the witchcraft trials in my book, The Law Above the Law); and the positive contributions of Christianity to civilization across the centuries far outweigh the historic church’s—in fact fairly rare—deviations from Christ’s standards (consult Alvin J. Schmidt’s survey, How Christianity Changed the World).

But any attempts to condemn Christianity for persecuting others pale to insignificance in the face of the miseries being faced by Christian believers at the present moment. And this is coming to be recognized not just by Christian believers and human rights organizations of Christian persuasion (e.g., the World Evangelical Alliance’s International Institute for Religious Freedom, of which I am Honorary Chairman of the Academic Board), but even by the secular world. Recent example: the 11-20 October issue of the distinguished French weekly news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, whose full-page column by Jacques Julliard is devoted to “La chasse aux chrétiens” (Open Season on Christians).

This article makes so many important points that I am going to present its essence in translation and paraphrase. –And in what follows, please note my careful use of quotation marks. I want to avoid at all costs the charge of plagiarism, properly directed to civil rights advocate and liberal pastor Martin Luther King, whose academic career involved the continual, unacknowledged use of other people’s material: see the Martin Luther King Papers, ed. Clayborne Carson (6 vols.; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992-2007, I, 49-50, II, 7-8).

The subtitle of Julliard’s article reads: “Christianity has become, by far, the most persecuted religion. But the West plays ostrich.” These two points are then supported in spades.

1. The extent of the persecution and its major source. “It’s really nothing: nothing but Christians and Christian communities being eaten alive. Where? Just about everywhere Christians are in the minority: in India, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, North Korea. But especially in Muslim lands—and not just in Saudi Arabia where Christian worship is punished by the death penalty, but also in Egypt, Turkey, and Algeria. In today’s world, Christianity is by far the world’s most persecuted religion.”

“However, it is in the Near East—the very birthplace of Christianity—where the situation is the grav...

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