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Secular Attacks on Christian Character



In the pastoral letters, 1 Timothy 3:8-10 advises that deacons ought to be “men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested, and then, if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.”


Christians in the early church were further advised to behave with good character in Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”


Though this may not seem especially significant in the abstract, it is of utmost importance when one considers that Christianity spread across the known world in a political and religious climate that was hostile to its development. Judaism and Roman paganism were both hostile to early Christianity. That meant that Christians had to be above reproach so that their enemies could not doubt the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. As Douglas R.A. Hare wrote:


“It has long been recognized that in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees has been intensified and it has often been suggested that this intensification reflects the continued struggle between the Church and the synagogue.” [1]


The violent persecution and martyrdom that are colloquially associated with the early church are not major problems in the USA today. However, as the Bible tells us, Christians are to expect persecution from the world and endure it with patience and grace. As Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” It is, therefore, unsurprising that Christians remain unpopular in the court of secular opinion. For instance, the Huffington Post gladly runs articles mocking Bible Belt Christians for using normal expressions of condolence like “he’s in a better place,” twisting the gesture into a presumptuous attempt to “predatorily” trap people into being believers with the threat that they may not see their loved ones again unless they believe. [2]


These attempts to discredit Christianity hinge on impeaching the moral integrity of well-intentioned Christians, especially their leaders; this is the very thing that Timothy and Matthew sought to prevent!


Unfortunately, this is not an isolated phenomenon.


The hatred of the world does not discriminate between Christian denominations. While Protestants and Catholics are sharply distinguished between themselves, to the secular world, they are one and the same, just two different heads of one great Christian hydra.


The reputation of Christians everywhere has been at least somewhat sullied because the leadership of the Catholic Church has infamously been implicated in covering up child abuse scandals that have rocked the foundations of Vatican City. [3] The unfortunate truth behind these claims has served to legitimize other attacks on the character of figures like Pope John Paul II, who was alleged by a conspiracy-theorist documentary to have engaged in inappropriate relationships with young girls. [4] This story illustrates that, even for someone whose personal character was apparently impeccable, the secular world still finds ways to spin perverse stories to discredit them.


Even as outlets like Huffington Post continue to attack the character of those whom they consider to be representatives of the Christian faith, we must never give them ammunition for their war machine. All professing Christians, especially church leaders, must approach the world with respectability and a clear conscience. We can rest encouraged by the words of Christ in John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”


Deserved or not, this fact reminds us yet again of the importance of church leaders displaying good moral character.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

 

[1] Douglas R.A. Hare, Theme of Jewish Persecution of Christians in the Gospel of Matthew, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 15.



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lion7lamb
Jun 17, 2023

Agree wholeheartedly with the essence of this article, however we must remember that Rome is not a Christian Denomination and the history of the Roman false church is replete with episodes of priests immoralities, informed by former priests. It is true though that the world generally looks at Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics the same. As born-again Christians wear must be willing to make a strong stand for the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be prepared for persecution, as we her in the U. S. A. are simply intimidated by a little ridicule.

2 Timothy 3:12

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