Reflecting on a recent speech by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, Kathryn Jean Lopez warns that “Christianity will be history if we cut ourselves off from our roots” ["Losing Our Religion," National Review Online].
While she frames this as a call for Christians to fight for the preservation of religious freedom, I think scripture gives us a different answer. Jesus warned that anyone who follows him “will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death” not to mention “hated by all nations” (Matthew 24:9, NIV). A couple decades later, Paul reminded his pal Timothy, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12, NIV).
The world always has and always will hate the message of Jesus, for the gospel is inherently subversive and counter-cultural. Ms. Lopez seems to think that political animosity towards the church is a novel phenomenon, yet thousands of martyrs – ancient and modern – prove that the Church not only persists but even thrives when threatened.
Perhaps Christians should welcome a “secular” West; a little heat might do us lukewarm Christians some good.