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The Christian Counter


Who Persecute and Why


Evil Men Persecute Righteous


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 persecuted him.”

John 5:16.


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.” Isaiah 58:6.  


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 slay him.


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 brother’s 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 25:29-34; 27:41.


b.   The wayward and envious sons of Jacob persecuted Joseph. Genesis 37; Acts 7:9.


c.   The 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.


g.   Nebuchadnezzar, 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. Daniel 6.


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 suffer persecution?


“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

2 Timothy 3:12.


What is essential to religious persecution?


Ecclesiastical control of the civil power, or a union of church and state.


Since persecution is invariably wrong, what must be true of persecuting governments?


They likewise must be in the wrong.


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 followers?


“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 16: 1,2.


Who is the original murderer?


“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s 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 men’s lives but to save them.


Some Who Would Justify Persecution


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. 32.

“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 penalties”

[From the brief “Ad assiduas” (1755) of Benedict XIV], leads to a system already condemned as heretical.’ Nor may it be held that the pope’s 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. 333, 334.

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 Narrow-Minded


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 Prophets.”

Matthew 7:12.


What does love not do?


Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

 Romans 13:10.


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.


Protestants Declared Heretics  


“In the eyes of the [Roman] Catholic church, Protestants are heretics pure and simple; and if the name be offensive, it’s 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 author’s 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 author’s]. The society of the church and in public order, against the disturbance of which there are many ecclesiastical charges, must necessarily be preserved, that men’s 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. 1901.


Note – This work was highly recommended by Pope Leo XIII.    

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