“Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents” (another thought)

“Standing Firm: A Christian Response to Hostility and Persecution” (published by CPH in 2015) points out that Christians believe Jesus is Lord, and that this can lead to persecution. In fact, Jesus is indeed our Lord, and there is no other before Him. Consequently, any nation or society demanding that Christians give first allegiance to something other than God eventually either backs off or begins persecuting Christians to forcibly change their priorities. We see the latter most often in Communist countries (e.g., China), Muslim countries (e.g., Iran), and Hindu countries (e.g., India). We also see it in sub-national areas dominated by strong Communist, Muslim, or Hindu forces (e.g., Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen attacks on Christians in Nigeria). Sometimes persecution is state policy; sometimes it is a local matter with tacit approval of the government.

Dreher’s book draws most of its lessons-learned from Communist treatment of Christians in Eastern Europe before the fall of the Soviet empire. The lessons learned are valuable and basic enough to be useful under almost any totalitarian regime. However, we also know that the style and manner of persecution can differ from one setting to another. For example, Soviet Communism tended to be relatively ham-fisted while Chinese Communism sometimes tries to take a more subtle approach. In the end, both are brutal, but the techniques differ. Some persecution is high-tech, other persecution comes at the end of a gun or machete, and either might use prisons or re-education camps. I wonder if a future book could usefully explore these differences, at least with respect to their implications for Christians. On the other hand, the underlying principles for Christians remain the same: how to live under the Lordship of Christ.

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