Christians in a Hostile Land

What if you lived in a country where your Christian faith was held by less than 5% of the population? How would that affect your methods of evangelism? And what if the religious views of the population at large were hostile to Christianity? It is hard for us in North America to conceive of this situation, but it is reality in many countries of the world.

We are posting a number of e-letters Make Sure Ministries has received from David Henke, founder of Watchman Fellowship, Inc., an apologetics ministry, on a variety of subjects. They will post on Tuesdays into the foreseeable future. As always, we appreciate your comments. Please consider clicking on the link following this blog to learn more about Watchman Fellowship and what they have to offer. E-letters have been slightly edited for clarity.

The above description fits most of the nations of the world that are dominated by Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or atheistic political ideology. But, it is also becoming more the case in many European countries where Christianity used to be the dominant faith. What happened in Europe? Could it happen here?

Perhaps the reason for Europe turning away from Christianity is the religious disillusionment resulting from two devastating world wars. This was a continent-wide version of the question “Where was God when I was hurting?” This kind of religious disillusionment can lead to the loss of moral absolutes, or moral relativism. America was spared much of that disillusionment. However, we are dealing with the same moral relativism that has the effect of making all truth claims equal, or for the secularist, equally unimportant.

Besides the effect of secularization and moral relativism we also face the unprecedented growth of alternative religions competing with Christianity. Americans in the past held to a Christian consensus, or worldview. Even the non-Christians in America would agree that the God of Christianity was the God they would put their faith in if they were going to be religious. Even though there were cults and alternative religions from the early years of our nation, they were extremely small as a percentage of the population and had little influence.

Since immigration has become a wide-open door, both legal and illegal, we find ourselves in the company of immigrants who bring their native faith with them. Many of these immigrants come from countries that are non-Christian. They have added their numbers to the religious pluralism that has grown exponentially in just the last few decades.

Americans, on the other hand, have walked away from many of the basic tenets of Christianity as well as church attendance. George Barna, in his research of religious trends in America, has documented this dramatic drift away from our evangelical heritage. At a speaking engagement in Missouri I overheard part of a conversation at a restaurant on the subject of religion. The only statement I heard completely was, “I think you should just do your best, be a good person, and God will accept you.” There are so many a priori assumptions in that statement that it is hard to know where to begin. But it is commonplace today.

In past decades Christian evangelism assumed a Christian consensus and got directly to the point of the sinner putting his faith in Christ. That may no longer be possible. We live in what is being called a “post Christian” America, where the Christian consensus is a memory. There has even been discussion among Christian leaders that one day we will find that evangelism is a hate crime because it says that another religion is false. But the Bible does not let us water down our message like that. We will have to defy laws that restrict the gospel. We will also have to present the gospel message as if the person had never heard of Jesus, or didn’t know God required exclusive devotion.

Jesus said of the Pharisees that they compassed land and sea to make one convert and when he was converted, he was doubly a child of hell as before (Matthew 23:15). Why was he doubly a child of hell after his Pharisaical conversion? It is my opinion that commitment to a belief system has a binding effect on a person’s ability to process truth claims. No one lets go of a firmly held conviction without a struggle. Now this believer in “another gospel” is not like the American who would believe the Christian gospel if he were to be a believer at all. Now he must be pried away from that alternative belief before he can be open to the gospel of Christ. This is the essence of counter-cult evangelism.

This trend away from Christianity is being exacerbated by a growing number of Americans who DO NOT read their Bible regularly. A poll by the American Bible Society indicated that 49% of Americans read their Bible in 2021. However, the “Bible engaged” people in 2022 had dropped a full ten percentage points to 39%. Bible reading and study needs first of all to be modeled by parents and churches. Sermons, devotionals and Bible lessons need to be directly based upon the text of scripture. The commonplace approach in the vast majority of churches today is the pre-digested lesson that doesn’t expound the text but rather summarizes it. We can do better for our children to reverse the trend away from the Bible.

Watchman Fellowship has sounded the warning about apostasy and complacency for more than four decades. The cults have doubled in size. The churches that teach the Bible verse by verse are rare today and Christians who are seeking that kind of teaching and discipleship are not finding it which leads to church hopping. One area that is growing is the house church and home Bible studies. If you live in the Columbus, GA, area I will be starting such a Bible study soon. 

Email me if you are interested.

April 8, 2022 E-Letter

Copyright© 2019 Watchman Fellowship, All rights reserved. Used by permission of David Henke.



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