As I read church history and meet Christians who sacrificed themselves and all they possessed for the honor and glory of Christ and the preservation of Biblical truth, I am always moved to tears. Compared to those who refused to compromise the principles of God’s Word—men and women like Athanasius, Huss, and the covenanters of Scotland—I feel I have done nothing for Christ and His Kingdom. Their stories stir my soul and fuel my resolve to live more faithfully.
Even though I grew up as a member of a Presbyterian church and learned much Biblical truth, I discovered most of these stories as an adult. Would my life as a Christian have been more consistently lived had I heard these as an impressionable child? I believe so. In the modern world, educating and inspiring our children with true stories from the past is rarer than when I was a child fifty years ago. Do our children even know how to distinguish true stories from fantasy? Which do they prefer? Are F/X and cartoon characters stealing the hearts and minds of the next generation of children who should be involved in Christian warfare against the man-centered “isms” of this evil world? Have we lost our children to Hollywood?
Sadly, modern-day “church-ianity” attempts to entertain our children into a shallow belief in a “god” who bears no resemblance to the God of Holy Scriptures, who thunders from heaven against all unrighteousness and rewards faithfulness down through thousands of generations. I propose that we put the blame where it belongs: not on creative cartoonists and the entertainment industry, but on ourselves. We have often adopted the philosophy of modern-day humanistic education and its child-centered rather than God-centered approach. If, however, Christ and His glory are at the center of our teaching methodologies and if every subject is brought into focus from His vantage point using Scripture as our “spectacles” and grid, our children will learn that God, not man, is at the center of history. They will properly see events past, present, and future as “His-story.”
How irrelevant church history may seem to some! Why teach our children about the Reformers and martyrs? In America’s pluralistic, syncretistic society, would it not be easier for our children to learn simply to coexist with differing religious views?
Distinctive Christian beliefs are dangerous! Remember Columbine High School, where a young girl was shot at point-blank range for affirming her belief in God? Who can stomach the horrors of 9-11, when hundreds of unsuspecting lives were taken in an act of extreme violence? Perhaps it would be safer to teach our children to “go along so as to get along” in this violent world, to blend in, not speak out. According to a popular candidate for president, this is, after all, no longer a “Christian nation,” nor should we want it to be one, he asserted, citing passages in the Old Testament where God’s law was spelled out as well as the Sermon on the Mount.1 How frightening! How can this tide be stemmed?
Amazingly, the prevalent attitude of many, if not most, American Christians is just the same as this cult member who may be our next president! “Tolerance” requires that your religious preferences should be held privately and have nothing to do with politics, jurisprudence, or life’s choices. The religion held in highest regard in our society is the religion of “Tolerance.” In fact, if you are foolish enough to speak out against this “religion,” your influence on others, your reputation as an intelligent person, and your general popularity will be greatly disabled or destroyed.
Apparently no one is listening anyway, so why speak out? John Calvin was asked a similar question once. He replied, “I would be less than a dog if I did not bark when my Master was under attack!” Such was the belief of the great men and women of antiquity who should inform and inspire our lives as Christians today. A study of the history of the church through the ages will reveal that God has continued to grow His church, not only despite persecution, but often as a direct result of it. The heresies that divided the church often acted to unify the next generation in a firmer understanding of the truth! The almost contradictory truth still abides: The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. God will never go back on His promises to His people. He will continue to grow His church until the whole earth gives back the song which first the angels sang over Christ’s cradle in Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth to men!”
As we boldly speak the truth as fearlessly as the Reformers and martyrs did, God will use our witness, and our children’s faith will be fed.
Dr. R. J. Rushdoony observes in his important book The Foundations of Social Order:
The life of a society is its creed; a dying creed faces desertion or subversion readily. Every creed, however healthy, is also under continual attack; the culture which neglects to defend and further its creedal base is exposing its heart to the enemy’s knife. Because of its indifference to its creedal basis in Biblical Christianity, western civilization is today facing death and is in a life and death struggle with humanism.2
Dr. Joe Morecraft, III, heartily agrees with Dr. Rushdoony and continues his thought concerning the importance of maintaining a Biblical creed. Dr. Morecraft references one aspect of Biblical Christianity’s foremost tenets, among many others: that of the doctrine of the Trinity as a target for modern-day heresy, even as it was in the past:
Anti-Christian philosophies and theologies challenge our doctrine of the Trinity constantly, offering in its place a god created in the image of man. If we do not teach our children the full doctrine of the Trinity from the Bible and why we believe that the Creator of the universe is one God in three equal persons simultaneously, and [if we do not teach them] how to answer those who oppose that truth, when our children go to college and are faced with anti-trinitarian, intellectual critics, they will either be swept off their feet and into the abyss of skepticism and agnosticism, or they will be confused and compromised in their understanding of the Christian faith and its application to life.3
As we study history, we find the followers of Jehovah and His only-begotten Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, have struggled against “principalities and powers,” pagan potentates, and a populace opposed to the rule of King Jesus from the time of the ancient pagans of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome until present-day paganism in its modern garb. Even within the walls of our churches humanism has crept in and polluted sound doctrine and practice. Dr. Rushdoony comments on the necessity of many ecumenical church councils to preserve the purity of Biblical doctrine. He says that the language of these councils was not “the language of conciliation. The foundation of [their ecumenism] was not smoothing out differences and building bridges to the opposition but, on the basis of the uncompromising faith, to drive out the enemy and to allow him no entrance save conversion. The enemies were plainly termed ‘wolves’; they had to become lambs before they could be approached peaceably.”4
What an odious task this would seem to the modern Christian! The temptation is to throw up our hands and either compromise the Scriptures for more popular and seeker-friendly methodologies and belief systems, or to live lives of quiet desperation and defeat. But neither of these options is valid for a Christian convinced of the belief from God’s Word that our Sovereign God reigns and uses His persevering people to do all His holy will! If we give our children over to the gods of humanism and compromised Christianity, we become as evil as those who sacrificed their offspring to Moloch! A noble train of martyrs stands before us, crying out, “For these principles I gave my life, and you would so easily give up the precious truths for which I died?” Unbelievably tragic!
God help our resolve never to let the blood of the martyrs have been shed in vain! Let us hold high the standard handed us by those faithful men and women of the past who loved not their lives more than their Lord. May we honor our fathers and mothers of the faith, retelling their stories and teaching the truths they suffered and died to preserve. May we not be found faithless on that great judgment day, as we stand before our Lord, confessing self-centered, compromised, lazy lives, which we wasted, heedless of the generations yet to be born, those who could have revered the faith of their fathers had their fathers been faithful to live by its precepts and pass them on! “He lit a candle of faith in their hearts…Lord, make it shine through the coming generations Like a city that’s set on a hill.”5
We must redeem the time for the days are evil! We must not only love the great doctrines of the faith, we must pass on these truths and the stories of those who gave everything to preserve our particular Reformed faith for their future generations, to the glory of our great God. Embrace these stories yourselves and then tell them to your children and grandchildren in an engaging way, praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to light a flame of intense love for Christ through your words that will enlighten the darkness of this crooked and perverse generation through their witness and ours. May God grant us an unquenchable faith in the God of Scripture, the God of our fathers, even as the Reformers and the bright company of martyrs before us possessed.
2. R.J. Rushdoony, The Foundations of Social Order (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1998), 181.
3. Jospeh C. Morecraft, III, The History of the Reformation in the West, unpublished lectures, Atlanta, GA, 79–80.
4. Rushdoony, The Foundations of Social Order, 19—20.
5. Judy Rogers, “Candle of Faith,” from her album, Arise! Shine!, www.judyrogers.com.