Hedonists and Martyrs, and a thought…

I received the link to this short message written by Anton Bosch within an email today and wanted to share it. Before posting it I also wanted to share something totally unrelated.

The person who sent this out had recently been in contact, via email, with an elderly man who had served in Hitlers army. The correspondence was quite interesting. And while it is interesting, this isn’t what I wanted to share.

The author, I believe, made a very keen observation. One we don’t often think about: simply said,

Hitler arose in Germany as the conservative cure-all to the immoral liberal culture

What the author actually wrote was,

In that light, I think you will find my exchange…. most interesting.  He is now a citizen of Dresden, a city infamous for being fire-bombed by the Allies during World War II.  It is a short exchange but yet it reveals just how deceived and confused men become when they take their hearts and eyes off of the person of Jesus Christ and his teachings; to follow in the footsteps of men like Hitler who came upon the scene in Germany as the conservative cure-all to the immoral liberal culture that had overtaken Germany since the first World War.  Is America following the same path and pattern?  Will the immoral and bankrupt liberal policies of legalizing abortion and homosexual behavior, combined with the government takeover of the economic systems, produce a conservative backlash and the rise of another Hitler who will also claim to be a Christian? (highlight mine)

We don’t read much, if anything, about how a last day leader will most likely be an ultra-extreme conservative, do we? Or why one could so easily be sought after by the people. But it happened before folks. And it could happen again.

Anyway, the authors observation struck something within me. I want to do some serious thinking about this…

On to Anton Bosch’s article!

Hedonists and Martyrs

While reviewing church history recently I was reminded of some of the things we should learn from history. But before I share those with you, I want to remind you that what normally passes for church history is the history of the apostate church (lower case “c”). The history of the true Church is not normally taught in Bible schools and seminaries except for a passing mention to the little groups of true believers that were a thorn in the side of the institutional churches.

The following are the central truths we learn from Church history:

  • Even in the darkest hours of the last 2,000 years there have always been true believers and true Churches in this world.
  • The real Church has always been small in numbers and poor in political power, finances and popularity.
  • True churches and believers have always been persecuted.

It is on this third point I want to dwell for a few minutes: Persecution has come from many different sources, even though the ultimate source remains Satan and his forces.

The Jews, initially under the leadership of Saul of Tarsus, persecuted and killed believers beginning with Stephen. Of course Jesus was the first “Christian” martyr, and before the New Testament many prophets were also brutally killed by Israel because of their message.

The Roman government persecuted and brutally martyred the believers for almost 300 years until Constantine in 312AD.

Immediately after 312 the Roman church took over from the Roman government and began to persecute believers who did not submit to their authority. Persecution under the Church of Rome continued for the next 1700 years right up to the present, reaching its peak during the inquisition (c. 1200 to c. 1600). It is very difficult to find an accurate estimate of the numbers of people killed by the Roman church but the best studies indicate a number of around 80 million Christians in addition to witches and others killed by Rome!1

Even while Rome was killing Protestants, the Reformation leaders were torturing and killing Anabaptists and other believers who disagreed with them. Just one of many to die at the hand of the Reformers was Michael Sattler, a true believer. “He was shamefully mutilated in different parts of the town, then brought to the gate, and what remained of him thrown on the fire, His wife and some other Christian women were drowned, and a number of brethren who were with him in prison were beheaded.”2 Most of the Protestant leaders, including Luther and Zwingli, engaged in the most severe and cruel torture and murder of anyone who disagreed with them but the most vicious of all was Calvin. In Geneva he institutionalized torture and death as a legitimate means to change people’s views and purge the “church” of dissenters.

In addition there are the massive persecutions of Christians, many still ongoing, by Muslims, Chinese Governments, Communists and all sorts of other unbelievers right across the world. Just recently I was shocked to hear that a friend, and former colleague, as well as two women, were brutally killed and mutilated by Satanists in South Africa, making them (as far as I know) the first martyrs to die for the faith in South Africa. It is estimated that today3, more Christians in the world are being persecuted than are free to worship the true God. A comprehensive Pew Forum study last year found that Christians are persecuted in 131 countries containing 70 percent of the world’s population. Other studies indicate that between 100,000 and 200,000 Christians are being martyred for their faith every year4 and that around 200 million Christians are denied fundamental human rights because of their faith.

All this should not come as a surprise since the New Testament is replete with statements that persecution would be the norm for Christians. In Jesus’ first mention about the Church he spoke of the war that would be brought against His Church. “…on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). Paul said: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12). And Peter said “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

In spite of the evidence of history and the plain teaching of the Bible, the vast majority of Christians in the so-called “Free World”, still believe that it is the right of Christians to be popular, fairly treated and respected and that a “happy” life should be the norm for believers.
But as I read again about how most true Christians have been mistreated and how they lived as vagabonds and fugitives throughout the last two millennia, I began to think about my own life and how easily I complain about the relatively minor inconveniences and rejection I experience because of the truth. I felt ashamed that I dare complain when thousands, right now, are experiencing the most extreme physical pain, emotional anguish and death for the sake of the Gospel. Who am I to grumble when I am free to come and go, live in relative comfort and enjoy the company of my wife while others are in prison, being tortured and killed?

But I also thought about how easily many stay away from the gathering of believers because it is too hot, too cold, or they are too tired because of watching TV or partying too late on Saturday night. I struggle to reconcile this picture with the one of men and women being torn apart by dogs, their limbs pulled from their bodies on the rack and the smell of burning human flesh on the fires of the persecutors. I struggle to understand how some are unwilling to give up their sinful pleasures when millions have to give up their very lives.

I struggle to understand how the pleasure-centered and self-centered “Christian” of the West can claim to share a common faith with the martyrs. I struggle to understand how preachers who preach a gospel of happiness, prosperity and popularity believe that their message is the same message that was preached by the faithful minority of the last 2,000 years, who like the prophets of old: “…had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:36-38).

Can the faith that results in persecution, torture, and death be the same faith that promises carnal happiness, a new Mercedes and popularity? Can the faith that pursues pleasure, comfort and earthly happiness be the same faith that counts it a privilege to suffer for His name?  Will the hedonist5 and the martyr share the same heaven?

(Hedonist = a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification)



9 comments on “Hedonists and Martyrs, and a thought…

  1. WOW! A lot of very astute observations throughout the above. Regarding the first item, probably the thing the troubles me most about political conservatives is that they are so right concerning so many issues. But their proposed solutions don’t pass the sniff test in terms of theology. Where they STAND is all very biblical, but what they propose to DO is far from it. The solution to moral decay is the GOSPEL, NOT the LAW. And the typical response of conservatives is always MORE LAW while they wail the whole time about too many laws (they are right about that too). And, at the same time, while they wail about loss of personal freedom, their solutions to moral issues is the further curtail personal freedoms. So … America ready for a Hitler? I certainly think so. A cruel but appropriately charismatic political figure mouthing what the politically conservative want to hear, but concealing a totally different and diabolical agenda could all too easily rise to the top in American politics. If I were not a citizen of a different realm, I would be living in despair over just these kinds of things. People thing Obama is the devil. They haven’t seen anything yet. The one they need to fear is the one that they themselves are likely to put in office. That is truly something to worry about.

    As for the rest of it, protestants had every reason to rebel against Rome, but indeed, unfortunately, they took too much of Rome with them when they left. And that rot has seeped through all of the evangelical movement and even into the fundamentalist movement and is reeking havoc in the church today. One of the chief reasons the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox cut their ties to Rome was that they perceived that Rome was hopelessly saturated with the paganism that preceded the Roman church. And it is those deep roots in paganism that have plagued the Roman church and even the protestant church that rebelled against it, ever since. The answer is not Orthodoxy as Orthodoxy has its own problems, BUT protestants could learn a lot from Orthodoxy when it comes to the poison of the Roman church.

    • People thing Obama is the devil. They haven’t seen anything yet. The one they need to fear is the one that they themselves are likely to put in office. That is truly something to worry about.

      Amen George. Until i read it (concerning how Hitler rose to power) it had never dawned on me that we may get what the people really want, an ultra conservative, and what it could mean. And how the flood of liberalism we see today may be setting the stage.

    • And, the problem of course is, that “ultra conservative” will not be a “conservative” at all, but rather a wolf in sheep’s clothing. There are some deep spiritual parallels on the political side. This person would be a traitor to the country AND a traitor to those who elect him. But he will say all the right things to “push their buttons” which is EXACTLY what Hitler and others like him down through history have done.

      And speaking of Hitler and American politics, I don’t know if you caught this little gem.


      There are a lot of strangenesses going on in our society today that do not bode well for the future.

    • I did see that George. The story was on the front page at Huffington Post for a few days and sure got a lot of reaction from those who commenting.

      Amen George, there ARE a lot of strange happenings going on today. Its difficult to keep up with it all without allowing yourself to become (personally) affected. This nation seems to have gone mad…

      A wolf in sheep’s clothing: yes. People are being groomed right now, if this is to occur, to welcome this wolf with open arms. Another layer of the apostasy onion is preparing to be peeled away brother George. Most will not recognize it when it happens.

  2. I find this quite questionable and would like some historical sources to verify the claims:

    “… Most of the Protestant leaders, including Luther and Zwingli, engaged in the most severe and cruel torture and murder of anyone who disagreed with them but the most vicious of all was Calvin. In Geneva he institutionalized torture and death as a legitimate means to change people’s views and purge the “church” of dissenters.”

    I don’t find that historical at all! Do you or any of your other readers???

    What proofs are there to justify those claims?

    • Michael, the problem here, as always, is the concept of state church and theocracy. Rome freely mixes church and state with a passion. And that is a perfect recipe for religious persecution. The Protestants followed in their footsteps in this regard, here is a good overview: http://www.wayoflife.org/database/protestantpersecutions.html And of course the Orthodox also followed this model with Byzantium, Russia, Greece, etc but were no where near as abusive as Rome. It’s a real problem and there is a tendency to whitewash the past in this regard when it touches our particular church organizations. But we have to see it for what it is, which is, in fact, a very unbiblical approach to the church/state relationship.

  3. Michael, if you google these charges you’ll find “proof” on both sides of the coin–pro and con.

  4. A lot of what is wrong with the church down through history has to do with the church forming an UNHOLY alliance with the state. The Roman church perfected it and the protestants followed in their footsteps. The Eastern Orthodox did with Constantinople and later Greece and Russia. The Oriental Orthodox, not so much. That church/state relationship was behind much of the supposed “great apostasy” which evangelicals have long asserted. And yet now most of those same evangelicals and fundamentalists are pushing for the same sort of church/state monstrosity. Why did God allow Israel to have a King only reluctantly? Why did David murder Uriah? Was David evil? Or did David murder Uriah simply because he could? Let me tell you, there would be a lot more murders happening IF people (including Christians) could. And once you have a state church, people (Christians) CAN. GOOD believers WILL kill in order to get irritating people out of the way IF they CAN. That is why theocracy is evil, and in spite of that all too many Christians are thirsting for it. The church needs to be the SOJOURNING people of God that God intended it to be and to stop dreaming of supplanting God on His throne and taking control of His creation by entangling herself with temporal government. There is a whole lot that I respectfully disagree with the Baptists about, but they are more than right when it comes to state/church persecution of innocent believers. I only question why many of these same Baptists seem to hunger just as lustfully after political power. Its poison folks. Don’t be duped into following its siren song in the hopes of fixing the world by bypassing the gospel with a shortcut. The world is going down the drain. Give it a break. If you want to involve yourself in politics, nothing wrong with that, but DON’T ENTANGLE THE CHURCH IN IT! Christians can agree to disagree when it comes to doctrine and the grace of God will ensure that it is faith that saves, NOT doctrinal purity. (Of course, there is a form of doctrinal error that is deadly, I’m not referring to that). But when believers start killing each other over these things simply because they can, they are really putting their souls at risk.

    • A lot of what is wrong with the church down through history has to do with the church forming an UNHOLY alliance with the state.

      AMEN! Couldn’t agree more. And there is a group today which fights, and has been fighting for years, to tear down that wall between church and state, completely.

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