Looking Back to Look Ahead

Several years ago someone asked a deceptively simple question: Other than turning the other cheek, what options do Christians have for responding to persecution? That one question gave rise to many others, and eventually led to my only stand-alone book (other than a doctoral dissertation) written to date.

Friends suggested some different approaches when I started the project. One suggested a comprehensive historical study to review persecution of the Christian church from Biblical times down through the present, with attention to how the church responded, how each event turned out, and lessons learned for today. An interesting approach but hard to know if I could ever live long enough to finish such a massive undertaking!

Another friend suggested digging into the politics, sociology, and spirituality of current persecution world wide with attention to detail, context, and recommendations for political pushback. The situation in many parts of the world keeps evolving, even if some of the common threads are distressingly the same, so I did not see how to prepare such a book in a way that would speak to the future as well as the present. Too much of a moving target and potentially too political, although politics certainly plays a role when a government claims to be above God (e.g., see North Korea).

I wanted the book to encourage as well as inform, so the book I eventually wrote (shown below) attempted to survey trends rather than events, look for underlying themes and common threads, and then present response options that could be useful both now and in the future. This required a balance between details and generalities and a balance between conceptual and practical. I needed to cast the net widely, but not too widely. Did it work? Well, if you’ve read the book, you can judge for yourself.

So much for the looking back. Looking ahead, what comes next? Since completing Standing Firm: A Christian Response to Hostility and Persecution, I have written a chapter on time management, priorities, and delegating work in a book for pastors, a chapter in a book on major world religions, and a pamphlet on a Biblical response to cults. No second book though, at least not yet. In the fullness of time…

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