Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Christianity Under Intensified Fire

The spiritual strategy against Christianity is not merely found on the pages of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. We are watching a hellish belching of verbal, visual and physical assaults against biblical Christianity. Last week on the television program The View, Rosie O'Donnell made the bold claim that; "...radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America." In response to many Christians’ outrage toward Rosie's statements, ABC News felt compelled to show a film from a church summer youth camp in Oregon, whose theme was spiritual warfare, as an example of the militarization of Christian youth. Another assault occurred last week when a liberal guest on MSNBC’s The Situation (hosted by Tucker Carlson) made a similar statement; guest Sam Seder, co-host of Air America's Majority Report, announced that Jerry Falwell was “just as dangerous as Osama bin Laden.” Beyond this, NBC has decided to join in bashing the Christian faith by airing a Madonna special in November that depicts the "Material Girl" in a mock crown of thorns hanging on a crucifix, while she frees a saint from his sexual repression by seducing him. Madonna considers mocking the crucifixion of Jesus the highlight of her show and NBC agrees.

These American pop-culture attacks upon of our faith converge on the same week that many in the Islamic world took to the streets protesting, rioting, and burning churches, as well as the murder of a Catholic nun over Pope Benedict XVI comments on Islam. In a scholarly lecture given in Germany, the Pope referenced a 13th century quote about Mohammed. The quote set tempers flaming to the point that sharpshooters had to man the rooftops this week in Rome to guard the Pope from threatened assassination, during his weekly blessing.

What are we to make of these compelling news items? First, the spiritual war in our land and in our world is real. The lines are becoming clearly defined. It will be increasingly difficult for Christians to remain passive, ignorant and disengaged, in the world we inhabit. Secondly, the message of biblical Christianity is that Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. We cannot draw back from our mission to reach people in our community and the world with the liberating love and exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. Lastly, our Savior modeled how we are to handle hostility: we are to face it and confront it with love and truth. A Catholic nun named, Sister Leonella, who devoted her life to helping the sick in volatile regions of Africa, was likely murdered in reaction to Pope Benedict's comments. She whispered as she died, "I forgive, I forgive" and proved once again the clear distinction between a faith based in sacrificial love and a religion based upon fascism.

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