Persecute and Why
Evil Men Persecute
Because Jesus had not
kept the Sabbath according to their ideas, what
did the Jews do?
So, because Jesus was
doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews
What kind of fast is most
acceptable to God?
Is not this the kind
of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains
of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to
set the oppressed free and break every yoke.
Note This is what
Jesus did. He, the Author and Lord of the
Sabbath, in addition to attending and taking part
in religious services (Luke 4:16), went about
doing good, healing the sick, relieving the
oppressed, and restoring the impotent, lame, and
blind, on the Sabbath day. But this while in
perfect accord with the law of God, the great law
of love, was contrary to the traditions and
perverted ideas of the Jews respecting the
Sabbath. Hence they persecuted Him, and sought to
Why did Cain kill Abel?
This is the message
you heard from the beginning: We are to love one
another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the
evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he
murder him? Because his own actions were evil
and his brothers righteous.
1 John 3:11,12.
Note If you will read
the Word of God, you will find that from the
beginning all good people were persecuted because
they were good. Abel was slain by his brother
because he was good, and Cain could not endure
the sight of him.
Commenting upon the
treatment of Isaac, the son of Sarah, by Ishmael,
the son of the bondwoman, what principle does the
Apostle Paul lay down?
At that time the
son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son
born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same
now. Galatians 4:29.
Note Other instances
of persecution mentioned in the Bible are:
a. Esau, who
sold his birthright, persecuted Jacob. Genesis
b. The wayward
and envious sons of Jacob persecuted Joseph.
Genesis 37; Acts 7:9.
idolatrous Egyptians persecuted the Hebrews.
Exodus 1 and 5.
d. The Hebrew
who did his neighbor wrong thrust Moses as
mediator, aside. Exodus 2:13, 14; Acts 7: 26,27.
e. Saul, who
disobeyed God, persecuted David, who feared God.
1 Samuel 15, 19, 24.
f. Israel, in
their apostasy, persecuted Elijah and Jeremiah,
who were prophets of God. 1 Kings 19:9, 10;
Jeremiah 36:20-23; 38: 1-6.
while an idolater, persecuted the three Hebrews
captives for refusing to worship idols. Daniel 3.
h. The envious
and idolatrous princes under Darius persecuted
Daniel for daring to pray to the God of heaven.
i. The murderers of
Christ persecuted the apostles for preaching
Christ. Acts 4 and 5.
j. Paul, be fore
his conversion, persecuted the church of God.
Acts 8:1; 9:1,2; 22:4,5, 20; 26: 9-11; Galatians
1:13; 1 Timothy 1:12,13.
The history of all religious
persecutions since Bible times is but a
repetition of this same story the wicked
persecute the righteous. And thus it will
continue to be until the conflict between good
and evil is ended. (See Psalm 37:12, 14, 32.)
What does Paul say shall
In fact, everyone
who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus
will be persecuted.
2 Timothy 3:12.
What is essential to
Ecclesiastical control of
the civil power, or a union of church and state.
Since persecution is
invariably wrong, what must be true of
They likewise must be in the
Note There are
many who do not seem to be sensible that all the
violence in religion is irreligious, and whatever
is wrong, the persecutor cannot be right.
Thomas Clarke, History of Intolerance
(1819 ed.), Vol. 1, p. 3.
Have not almost all
the governments in the world always been in the
wrong on religious subjects?
MaCaulay, Essay on Gladstone on Church and
State, in his Critical and Historical
Essays (1865 ed.), Vol. 2, p. 60.
God never forces the will or
the conscience; but, in order to bring men under
sin, Satan resorts to force. To accomplish his
purpose, he works through religious and secular
rulers, influencing them to enact and enforce
human laws in defiance of the law of God.
Under what terrible
deception did Christ say men would persecute His
All this I told you
so that you will not go astray. They will put you
out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming
when anyone who kills you will think he
is offering a service to God. John
Who is the original
You belong to your
father, the devil, and you
want to carry out your fathers desire. He
was a murderer from the beginning, not
holding to the truth, for there is no truth in
him. John 8:44.
When James and John
wished to call down fire from heaven to consume
the Samaritans who did not receive Christ, what
did Christ say to them?
But Jesus turned and
rebuked them, and they went to another
village. Luke 9:55, 56.
Note - The disciples did not
understand what manner of spirit they were
speaking of, because Jesus said that the Son of
Man did not come to destroy mens lives but
to save them.
Some Who Would Justify
Has the Papacy claimed
authority to persecute?
Note That the
Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than
any other institution that has ever existed among
mankind will be questioned by no Protestant who
has a competent knowledge of history. The
memorials, indeed, of many of her persecutions
are now so scanty that it is impossible to form a
complete conception of the multitude of her
victims, and it is quite certain that no powers
of the imagination can adequately realize their
sufferings. W.E.H. Lecky, in History
of the rise and Influence of the Spirit of the
Reformation in Europe (1910 ed.), Vol. 2, p.
This claim to exercise
coercive jurisdiction has, as might be expected,
been denied by various heterodox writers. Thus
Masilius Patavinus (Defensor Pacis II, iv),
Antonius de Dominis (De rep. Eccl, IV, vi, vii,
ix), Richer (De eccl, et pol. Potestate, xi-xii),
and later the Synod of Pistoia, all alike
maintained that coercive jurisdiction of every
kind belongs to the civil power alone, and sought
to restrict the Church to the use of moral means.
The Holy See has always condemned this error.
Thus, in the Bull Auctorem Fidei,
Pius VI makes the following pronouncement
regarding one of the Pistoian propositions:
[The afore said proposition] in respect of
its insinuation that the church does not possess
authority to exact subjection to her decrees
otherwise than by means dependant on persuasion:
so far as this signals that the Church has
not received from God power, not merely to direct
by counsel and persuasion, but further to command
by laws, and to coerce and compel the delinquent
and contumacious by external and salutary
[From the brief Ad
assiduas (1755) of Benedict XIV], leads to
a system already condemned as heretical.
Nor may it be held that the popes laws must
exclusively concern spiritual objects, and their
penalties are exclusively of a spiritual
character. The Church is a perfect society (see
Church XIII). She is not dependant on the
permission of the State for her existence, but
holds her charter from God. As a perfect society
she has the right to all those means that are
necessary for the attaining of her end. These
however, will include far more than spiritual
objects and penalties alone: for the Church
requires certain natural possessions, such, for
example, as churches, schools, seminaries,
together with the endowments necessary for their
sustentation. The administration and the due
protection of these goods will require
legislation other than what is limited to the
spiritual sphere. A large body of canon law must
inevitably be formed to determine the conditions
of the management. Indeed, there is a fallacy in
the assertion that the Church is a spiritual
society; it is spiritual regards the ultimate end
to which all its activities are directed, but not
as regards its present constitution nor as
regards the means at its deposal. The question
has been raised whether it is lawful for the
Church, not merely to sentence a delinquent to
physical penalties, but itself to inflict these
penalties. . As to this, it is sufficient
to note that the right of the Church to invoke
the aid of the civil power to execute her
sentences is expressly asserted by Boniface VIII
in the Bull Unam Sactam. This
declaration, even if it be not one of those
portions of the Bull in which the pope is
defining a point of faith, is so clearly
connected with the parts expressly stated to
possess such character that is held by
theologians to be theologically certain
(Palmieri, De Romano Ponifice, thes.
xxi), the question is theoretical, rather than of
practical importance, since civil Governments
have long ceased to be Catholic. The state of
things supposed could only exist when a whole
nation was thoroughly Catholic in spirit, and the
force of papal decisions was recognized by all as
binding in conscience. The
Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 12, p. 266, art.
Pope. New York: The Gilmary Society,
A Membership Corporation. Used by permission.
The Roman Catholic
Church, convinced, through its divine
prerogatives, of being the only true church, must
demand the right to freedom for herself alone,
because such a right can only be possessed by
truth, never by error. As to the other religions,
the church will certainly never draw the sword,
but she will require that by legitimate means
they shall not be allowed to propagate false
doctrine. Consequently, in a state where the
majority of the people are Catholic, the church
will require that legal existence be denied to
error, and that if religious minorities actually
exist, they shall have only a de facto
existence without opportunity to spread their
beliefs. If however, actual circumstances, either
due to government hostility or the strength of
the dissenting groups, makes the complete
application of this principle impossible, then
the [Catholic] church will require herself all
possible concessions, limiting herself to accept,
as a minor evil, the de jure toleration of
any other forms of worship. In some countries
Catholics will be obliged to ask full religious
freedom for all, resigned at being forced to
cohabitate where they alone should rightfully be
allowed to live
. We ask Protestants to
understand that the Catholic Church would betray
her trust if she were to proclaim, theoretically
and practically, that error can have the same
rights as truth, especially where the supreme
duties and interest of man are at stake. The
church cannot blush for her own want of
tolerance, as she asserts it in principle and
applies it in practice. F. Cavalli,
S.J., in La Civilta Cattolica (a Jesuit
organ published at Rome), April, 1948, quoted in
an editorial in The Christian Century, June,
23, 1948, p. 623. Used by permission.
There is reason to
believe, accordingly, says Paul Hutchinson,
speaking of modern political developments, that
the old issue of church and state, or of church
against state, will soon be upon us in a fury
unknown for a thousand years. Are we ready to
face that storm? Do we comprehend from how many
quarters it is likely to blow? The
New Leviathan (1946 ed.), p. 19.
Wiser Men Condemn Persecution
This enormous position has
been well refuted by Lord Macaulay in the
following words: The doctrine which, from
the very first origin of religious dissensions,
has been held by all narrow-minded individuals of
all sects, when condensed into a few words, and
stripped of rhetorical disguise, is simply this:
I am in the right, and you are in the wrong. When
you are stronger, you ought to tolerate me; for
it is your duty to tolerate truth. But when I am
the stronger, I shall persecute you; for it is my
duty to persecute error. Essay on
Sir William James Mackintosh in Critical
and Historical Essays (1865 ed.), Vol. 1, pp.
Benjamin Franklin: When
a religion is good, I conceive that it will
support itself; and when it cannot support
itself, and God does not take care to support, so
that its professors are obliged to call for help
of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of
being a bad one. Letter to Dr.
Price, Oct, 9, 1780, in The Writings of
Benjamin Franklin, edited by Albert Henry
Smyth, Vol. 8 p. 154.
John Wesley gave the
following Christian advice: Condemn no man
for not thinking as you think: Let every one
enjoy the full and free liberty of thinking for
himself: Let every man use his own judgment,
since every man must give account of himself to
God. Abhor every approach, in any kind of degree,
to the spirit of persecution. If you cannot
reason or persuade a man into the truth, never
attempt to force him into it. If love will not
compel him to come, leave him to God, the Judge
of all. Advice to the people Called
Methodist, on his Works, Vol. 8
(1830 ed.), p. 357.
The Divine Cure for the
What divine precepts
received and obeyed would do away with all
oppression and persecution?
Love your neighbor
as yourself. Matthew 22:39. So
in everything, do to others what you would have
then do to you, for this sums up the Law and the
What does love not do?
Love does no harm
to its neighbor. Therefore love is the
fulfillment of the law.
How does Christ bless
those who are persecuted?
Blessed are those
who are persecuted because of righteousness, for
theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you
when people insult you, persecute you and falsely
say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward
in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted
the prophets who were before you. Matthew
5:10-12. (See Reve3lation 2:10; 6: 9-11.)
Note The world hates
righteousness and loves sin. This is what caused
the hostility to Jesus when he was here on Earth.
Those who do not accept the love of God will find
Christianity a disturbing element and will sooner
or later was against truth and its
representatives. Fellowship with God brings
enmity with the world.
In the eyes of the
[Roman] Catholic church, Protestants are heretics
pure and simple; and if the name be offensive, its
nothing more than the offensiveness of truth
We do not question the
possibility of good faith, or of the theological
distinction between material and formal heresy.
That there are among Protestants material
heretics, those who in invincible ignorance deny
some dogmas of faith while honestly believing
themselves to be in possession of the whole
deposit, is not for us or even for the church to
positively affirm or deny. Only the all-seeing
Searcher of hearts can know all of that. But in
our opinion, the assertion that Protestants in
general are not to be considered as heretics, as
men who voluntarily, in one way of the many ways
in which an act can be voluntary, refused the
light, merits unqualified condemnation as
militating against the present economy of
salvation as well as against the efficiency of
the means that God infallibly gives to all who do
what lies in their power to come into the
possession of the truth.
In this, as in all
other matters of doctrine, the church alone is to
be our guide. That the church has ever regarded
Protestants as heretics, has ever conducted
herself toward them as heretics, is undeniably
true, and it ill becomes us to decide to the
church that her terms are only partly true
and unnecessarily offensive.
We abominate these
spineless Catholics who adopt such methods of
kinship and co-operation with Protestants in view
of their conversion. The Western
Watchman (Roman Catholic), January 27, 1916.
In actual fact, the
church at first dealt more leniently with
heretics, excommunicating them, confiscating
their property, till at last she was compelled to
inflict the extreme penalty; secondly,
experience shows (says Bellarm, De
Laicis,I, 3, c. 21) that there
is no other remedy; for the church gradually
advanced, and tried every means, first
excommunication alone, then a pecuniary fine was
added, then exile, FINALLY SHE WAS COMPELLED TO
FALL BACK ON DEATH [the capitals here are the
authors own]. Heretics despise
excommunication and say that bolt is powerless;
if you threaten them with a pecuniary fine, they
neither fear God nor respect men, knowing that
they will find fools enough to believe them and
support them. If you imprison them or send them
into exile, they corrupt those near them with
their words and those at a distance with their
books. SO THE ONLY REMEDY IS TO SEND THEM SOON TO
THEIR OWN PLACE [capitals are the authors].
The society of the church and in public order,
against the disturbance of which there are many
ecclesiastical charges, must necessarily be
preserved, that mens souls may be
sanctified by the true faith and good works, and
they might gain eternal salvation. Institutions
Juris Ecclesiastici Publici (Institutes of
Public Ecclesiastical Law), P. Marianus de Luca,
S. J. (Roman Catholic), Professor in the
Gregorian University of Rome, Vol. I, p. 143.
Note This work was
highly recommended by Pope Leo XIII.
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