Over 2,000 years ago, Christianity was birthed through a struggle against persecution and violence. As our dear Lord was murdered on a cross, many of his followers also tasted the bitter pill of suffering, persecution and violent death. As documented in the book of John, Jesus told his disciples to expect this type of treatment, declaring:
The world has always had a difficult time loving Jesus because his life and teachings pose a constant threat to its sinful, hierarchical and authoritarian power structures.
Just as it was then, there are many examples of Christian persecution today. The origin of hatred toward all things representative of Christ begins as seeds of thought. When these ideological seeds are continuously watered, they eventually grow into revolutions and regimes bent on eradicating Christian faith. Today, none of these systems fit the bill more than the antichrist government of China. In Red Runs the River, author Anthony Bollback utilized fictional characters to chronicle real events leading to the Chinese revolution. In the book’s introduction he writes:
Several hundred years ago when the gospel first came to the Middle Kingdom, now known as China, the river of blood started flowing. It became a raging torrent when the Communist regime took power in 1949 under the harsh repression of Mao Zedong. It is estimated that 30 million Chinese died under the cruel heel of Mao and his regime. Today, thousands of Christians still languish in China’s prisons for no other reason than their faith in Jesus Christ.
What began in 1946 as a vision to rebuild China after a devastating war with Japan (1937-1945) and its own deadly civil war (1945-1949), turned into a nightmare that resulted in the death of up to 65 million people. The revolution was led by Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Mao eventually became Chairman of the newly established People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Mao’s goal was to eliminate all vestiges of Western capitalism and religion as well as the Four Olds (old customs, culture, habits and ideas) of Chinese society prior to his ascension. Christian teaching did not fit into the new ideals of the PRC, so it was also targeted as an enemy to be stamped out.
Under Mao’s reign, the People’s Liberation Army (Red Guard) began a relentless assault on academics, officials, foreigners, landowners, and Christians. In How Christianity Came to China, Kathleen Lodwick explains the Red Guard’s tactics, stating:
If one had foreign books, knew a foreign language, or had been abroad, that was enough to prove the person was not totally Chinese – thus justifying an attack by the red Guards. If one was a landowner, one automatically exploited the lower classes and that was reason to attack the person. If one were a government official, or one’s father or grandfather had been one, that too was a good enough excuse to be denounced and attacked. If a member of one’s family was a Christian, or worse yet a Christian clergy, that was reason to attack them.
After Chairman Mao died in 1976, China went through many reforms under Den Xiaoping including relaxation of strict laws against religious freedom. Though still under the watchful eye of the state and strongly encouraged to register as a Three Self Church under its Three Self Patriot Movement (TSPM), Christian churches gradually gained more freedom to practice their faith. However, much of the church remained underground holding services in homes to keep from compromising their beliefs under TSPM indoctrination.
Today, under President Xi Jinping, China is taking its attempt to Sinicize the church to new extremes. On February 1, 2020 a new set of regulations titled “Administrative Measures for Religious Groups” became law. Organized into six chapters with 41 articles, the regulations aimed to put a stranglehold on all religious activity not previously approved and compliant with CCP mandates.
Author Stephen Mosher, in an interview with LifeSite News documented the escalated attack on Chinese Christians, stating:
So far, it is (1) no longer possible to buy a copy of the Bible online [in China], (2) existing copies of the Bible are being confiscated whenever the authorities come across them, and (3) there are new versions of all sacred texts – Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, etc. – that reinforce Communist ideology in the making.
- replacing religious images and icons with images of Chairman Mao or President Xi
- removing crosses from churches
- banning religious funeral services
- allowing churches to reopen only if they praise President XI and the CCP in sermons
- forcing churches to preach about national affairs and intensifying patriotic education
- promoting core socialist values
- replacing the Ten Commandments with quotes from President Xi
- suspending benefits to Christians who refuse to renounce their faith and comply with government orders
Despite this intensified effort to put the clamps on Christianity, Chinese history indicates that their attempts will likely backfire. Pastor Wang Yi’s Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu was shuttered by the CCP in 2018. Wang was arrested, tried in secret and sentenced to nine years in prison for inciting subversion of state power and operating an illegal business. Despite the setbacks Wang proclaimed:
In this war, in Xinjiang, in Shanghai, in Beijing, in Chengdu, the rulers have chosen an enemy that can never be imprisoned – the soul of man. Therefore they are doomed to lose this war.
During the years of violent government oppression under Mao, Christianity continued to flourish as new converts continually joined the underground church movements. By expelling all Western missionaries, the PRC turned Christianity into a purely Chinese movement that never stopped growing!
The war against Christianity is escalating all over the world. In January, Christianity Today issued a report documenting “The Top 50 Countries Where Itʼs Hardest to Be a Christian.” Despite its enhanced efforts against Christianity, China only ranked #23 on the list with North Korea anchoring the top spot. Horrifying acts of violence including murder, rape, beheadings, and torture are occurring in many of these top 50 nations. Some of the other offenses include arrests, imprisonment, home and church raids, desecration of religious icons, surveillance, censorship, and looting of Christian establishments.
I wonder how long it will be before the United States is placed on this list? The winds of change are rapidly blowing toward the West as social unrest, violence, and antichrist ideologies such as Marxism and Technocracy continue to grow in popularity.
After unjustly spending two years (2016-2018) in a Turkish prison, American missionary Andrew Brunson was released and allowed to return to the United States. Upon observing the state of affairs in the country, he came to the following conclusion:
First of all, I think it’s coming to the U.S. that there will be persecution…Persecution is nothing new…The thing is, that we in the West have not experienced [persecution] very much. It’s very unusual for a Westerner to be arrested for his faith. So we haven’t experienced it, but I think we are going to. I think it’s coming to this country.
Just like China, the U.S. used COVID-19 lockdowns to launch attacks against religious establishments including:
- arrests of church leaders and believers for “illegal” gatherings
- church closures with unfair and strict rules for reopening
- fines, penalties and threats of jail time for refusing to obey state mandates
- restrictions on the number of church service attendees
- bans against singing
- censorship of Christian and conservative voices
- pressure to take a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available
To continue to meet during the lockdown, some churches chose to hold drive-in services, conduct meetings online, or hold in person services with social distancing and limited attendance to avoid running afoul of government dictates. California has especially been a persistent hotspot for applying draconian measures against churches. We are experiencing the fulfillment of Paul’s warning to Timothy that “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12, NASB).
For all intents and purposes, it appears that the state is at war with the church in the U.S. and around the world. The Apostle Paul shined a light on this ongoing war in his letter to the Ephesians reminding Christians to:
The spiritual war we face is first against unseen rulers of darkness in the heavenlies. The ramifications of this war are then seen in the natural realm. It is a battle that has been fought countless times over the ages. Evil can only win when Christians remain blind, distracted, and detached from our first love. When properly focused we can exercise the power and authority to subdue the nations and despotic governments with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, when the church is lukewarm, deceived, and full of sin the powers of darkness gain the upper hand. It’s time for the church in the U.S. to wake up and realize this battle is raging in our homes, streets, cities, counties, schools, courtrooms, and civic offices. We must stop cowering to authoritarian mayors, governors and tech companies intent on keeping us silent. As German pastor, theologian, and staunch Nazi opponent Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “silence in the face of evil is evil itself.”
Just like Mao Zedong’s movement to remove the Four Olds from Chinese society, radical leftist factions in the United States are trying to erase the country’s history. Much of that history has Christian roots. America has already seen many of its historic monuments vandalized and/or removed in rapid fashion. The attacks coming from the Marxist influenced Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa movements are intended to reshape the country into a socialist, technocratic police state.
Violent tactics toward churches escalated after BLM leader Sean King called for all depictions of a white Jesus to be erased while equating Christianity with a form of white supremacy. Since his statements, several incidents have occurred including:
- The decapitation of a statue of Jesus in Florida
- church burnings and vandalism
- Satanic pentagrams painted on the doors of a church in New Haven, Connecticut
The cancel culture is advancing and American Christianity is firmly in its crosshairs. Will the church rise in response to the encroaching evil or will it be bullied into doing nothing while the antichrist agenda continues to spread in every facet of society? Will American Christians be forced underground to practice our faith like our Chinese brethren? Will Bibles be burned and subsequently banned?
If persecution to this degree arrives in America, maybe it will be a good thing. Way too many in the church are asleep, steeped in deception, and overly concerned with the cares of this world. Maybe some adversity will awaken the church to realize its true potential? Maybe the bride of Christ will stop courting other lovers and fully commit to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? This is my hope, but I’m also preparing accordingly if this does not happen. After all, the Lord has never needed large numbers to accomplish His will!
Finally, I leave you with a charge from Ephesians 5 and urge you to join us in the fight for truth.