Christian Persecution As Explained By Jesus (Matthew 5:10-12) -- By: Gregory C. Cochran
SBTJ 18:1 (Spring 2014) p. 7
Christian Persecution As Explained By Jesus (Matthew 5:10-12)
Gregory C. Cochran is the Director of the Bachelor of Applied Theology program at California Baptist University, where he also teaches courses in applied theology and pastoral ministry. He earned his Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he wrote his dissertation on the topic of persecution in the New Testament. Dr. Cochran has published articles in the Areopagus Journal and The Journal of Family Ministry. He has served as a pastor in Kentucky and he a member of the Evangelical Theological and Philosophical Society and has served as a volunteer representative on the Voice of the Martyrs.
About ten years ago, an occasional paper titled “The Persecuted Church” was presented at the Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization. That paper reminded its hearers that the original Lausanne Conference in 1974 had asked for scholars to study “the relationship between human suffering in general, suffering for Christ’s sake, and Christ’s own suffering.”1 Three decades after the original call, the Lausanne Conference again asked for scholars to address the crisis of Christian persecution, saying, “There is clearly a need for deeper theological reflection on the issues pertaining to suffering, persecution, martyrdom, religious freedom and human rights, and an appropriate Christian response.”2 What Lausanne is requesting is nothing less than what the Christian church has attempted to provide throughout her history: an explanation for why the righteous suffer on account of Christ.
About 1, 800 years ago, the church father Tertullian was compelled to offer a defense of Christians in the face of the persecution they were suffering. Keeping his keen wit, Tertullian both defended Christians and mocked their persecutors, saying,
SBTJ 18:1 (Spring 2014) p. 8
If the Tiber rises as high as the city walls, if the Nile does not send its waters up over the fields, if the heavens give no rain, if there is an earthquake, if there is famine or pestilence, straightway the cry is, “Away with the Christians to the lion!” What! shall you give such multitudes to a single beast? Pray, tell me how many calamities befell the world and particular cities before Tiberius reigned—before the coming, that is, of Christ?3
Like Tertullian before him, Augustine, the famous Bishop of Hippo, was compelled in his own day to offer a similar defense of the faithful. The major purpose of Augustine’s City of Go...
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