By Susan Johnson
One of our columnists, Stanley Campbell, wrote a well-meaning but misleading column about
the real war on Christmas.
To clear up any misunderstanding, allow me to address the points he raised and correct the misconceptions.
On one point, he was right—there is a
real war on Christmas.
But it doesn’t stop there. Unfortunately, in our increasingly secular society, some people feel threatened by a public nativity scene, the Boy Scouts’ adherence to scriptural standards, Army or Navy chaplains praying
in Jesus’ name,
a veterans’ memorial cross at Mt. Soledad, Ga., or even a student saying grace over his school lunch. The opponents direct their ire at practicing, sincere Christians. All of the above-named instances have been the subject of lawsuits, many of which have been brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Some of these real Christians who felt that their civil liberties were being abrogated have been defended (often successfully) by organizations such as the Alliance Defense Fund, the Rutherford Institute, and the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ).
those who purport to be Christ’s biggest defenders are leading
the charge in the war against real Christianity. He also accuses Fox News and right-wing Republicans of leading
an attack on health care for the poor, shelter for the homeless, want us to war against the Muslims and put everybody in jail.
That covers a lot of territory, but let’s look at the individual points.
Admittedly, there are false Christians and make-believers among the true believers. Jesus decried the hypocrites of His day and illustrated the problem with the parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds). But notice that when the workers of the landowner asked whether they should immediately cut out the troublesome weeds, the farmer said no, because some of the good grain might be destroyed also. He instructed them to let both grow together until the harvest and then sort them out. In effect, God is saying,
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
Yes, Jesus was concerned about the poor, for whom He showed never-failing mercy. But that wasn’t the main focus of His mission. He listed it first in the Beatitudes—
Blessed are the poor in spirit
—the spiritually hungry who feel their need for God’s grace. He came to fill that need, as He called Himself
the Bread of Life.
Jesus explained His mission to Nicodemus, an honest seeker of truth among the Pharisees, who came to Him one night for answers. Jesus told him about being
that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Jesus summarized His mission in the verses of John 3:16, 17:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
(KJV) He then added,
For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.
Less often do we hear verse 18 quoted:
He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
That applies to everyone—rich, poor, middle class, educated, illiterate, Hollywood celebrities, people on welfare. Certainly, Jesus had regard for the poor, but He put it in the proper context. Knowing that His time on earth was limited, He used every available moment for teaching what was most important. When a woman came into a dinner party and anointed the Master’s feet with expensive ointment, Judas objected that the money might have been better spent on the poor. What did Jesus tell him?
Let her alone; against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
It’s easy to condemn the church for the things they do wrong. The church on earth, at least, is people—very human people who are still sinners. But let’s also give credit where it is due.
Dr. Gary L. Cass, in his book Christian Bashing and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (2007), says:
History shows that the pagans in ancient Rome ‘thrust aside anyone who began to be sick, and kept aloof even from their dearest friends, and cast the sufferers out upon the public roads half dead, and left them unburied, and treated them with utter contempt when they died.’ [Dionysius, Works of Dionysius, Epistle 12.5] This is quite contrary to the practice of Christ, who ministered to the lepers. When epidemics broke out, the Romans ‘often fled in fear and left the sick to die without care.’ [Howard W. Haggard, The Doctor in History, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934)] In this time, there were no hospitals, and Christians would invite the sick into their homes. Later in history, Christian leaders decreed a hospice be built in every city that had a cathedral.
Locally, organizations such as the Rockford Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army minister to the homeless, the needy, and those who have no other recourse. Many people who have been beneficiaries of the services of these Christian organizations can testify how they were helped in a time of need.
Would Obama’s health care reform improve the U.S. system? Ask Shona Holmes, a Canadian citizen who in 2005 began having vision problems. Under Canada’s state-run system, she faced up to six months’ wait just to get to a doctor for a diagnosis. Fearing the delay, she contacted Mayo clinics in the U.S. and traveled to one in Arizona, where within days, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Knowing that time was critical, she took the diagnosis back to her country but was still unable to get the treatment she desperately needed. So she and her husband returned to the U.S., where the necessary surgery was performed. As reported in the August 2009 Impact, newsletter of Coral Ridge Ministries,
if Holmes had played by the rules of Canada’s government-run health care system, ‘the absolute best-case scenario that would’ve happened to me is I would’ve been permanently blind…the worst-case scenario is I wouldn’t be sitting here today,’ she said.
Do real Christians want to declare war on Muslims? Not if they follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. But Islam itself shows a dichotomy of beliefs, depending on where in the world it is practiced. Fritz Ridenour, in his book So What’s the Difference? A Look at 20 Worldviews, Faiths and Religions and How They Compare to Christianity, states: “A distinction needs to be drawn between the friendly image Islam projects in the West as a religion of love, tolerance and justice with the uncompromising nature of Islam as it has consistently been practiced in history and continues to be practiced today, as a political religion in the East. … This means that everyone in Islamic societies, including non-Muslims, must either conform to Islamic laws, economics, politics and customs or suffer heavy consequences.
Historically, in countries where Islam has gained political power, people of all rival religions are either wiped out or, in the interest of ‘tolerance’ and ‘open-mindedness’, permitted to exist as second-class citizens.
Coral Ridge Ministries reports that in a school in the U.K., children were told to bow down to Allah—and those who refused were subjected to suspension. A Muslim mob has reportedly assaulted and robbed Christians in Pakistan, then burned more than 100 of their homes—incited by the local imam urging people to
teach the Christians a lesson.
At least 85 Sharia courts are now operating in Britain, judging people according to Islamic principles. But the American Center for Law & Justice has defended several Muslim converts to Christianity who sought asylum in the U.S. because they faced certain death if deported to their native countries.
Under the circumstances, we have more serious things to worry about than whether to say
Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.
Like hanging onto the First Amendment.
From the Dec. 23-29, 2009 issue