The essence of Christianity is justification, it is God declaring the sinner guiltless, because another person, namely Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, paid the penalty for his sin, and thereby rescued him from death. Jesus said: "If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free." (John 8:36) And Paul added: "Freedom is what we have - Christ has set us free! Stand then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again." (Galatians 5:1) Christians have always been free people, courageous people, people who stand boldly before God and man, because they know that Christ has set them free.
With sinners it is different. The Bible talks of them as slaves. Guilty people hide from God and man. Adam and Eve hid from God after having disobeyed Him. And Proverbs says (28:1): "The wicked run when no one is chasing them, but an honest person is as brave as a lion." - So remember to keep your conscience clear, and if you have done something wrong, ask and accept God's forgiveness in faith, turn from your wicked ways and be free. For "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
In the Middle Ages there was a king of England, King Harold. He was a brave and inspiring leader who could arouse his subjects, and especially his soldiers, to intense loyalty, obedience and bravery. In 1066 he fought two major battles. The first was at Stamfort Bridge to repulse the King of Norway who was invading England. The second was at Hastings to repulse the Normans led by William the Conqueror. He won the first battle with ease and honour, but he lost the second battle without putting up much of a fight. Why the difference? What was the reason? - It was this: Just as he was preparing for the Battle of Hastings, he received word that the Pope had excommunicated him and had given his blessing to his opponent, William the Conqueror. This was such shattering news to him that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy: King Harold acted as if the life had been sucked out of him. When he went into battle against William he was unable to lead his men. The Pope, believed to be the representative of God, had judged him guilty, and this weighed so heavily on him that he lost both his battle and his life.
Guilt produces passivity and makes a man programmed for defeat. Therefore guilt can be used as a weapon and and guilt manipulation is an important means of warfare, not only in family and professional life, but also in politics. If a person can be made to feel guilty, he will hang his head in shame. He will not be able to defend himself with courage. If a whole society can be made to feel guilty, then it will not be able to stand up to its enemies. It will not be able to fight, but will give way before the aggressor. In many countries of the world whole populations are so guilt ridden that they cannot withstand even their own enslaving state. Totalitarian powers have always used guilt to get nations under their control. For instance, a major aspect of the Communist takeover of China was the manipulation of envy and guilt and the exploitation of grievances.
In 2004 a most significant event took place in Europe. The European Union signed into Law a Constitution which is entirely secular. Thousands if not millions of people had requested that God should be honoured in its Preamble, but the European Parliament, on the insistence of France, refused. This is an unbelievable act! A small number of faceless politicians have removed God from the national life of the whole of Europe. They refuse to honour God in the heartland of Christianity. Europe has enjoyed 2000 years of Christianity. It is the continent with the most magnificent cathedrals, the greatest scientific discoveries, the most beneficial medical advances, where one finds unparalleled works of art and learning, great prosperity and freedom. These are the countries of Händel's Messiah and Mozart's music, and the God who inspired it all is now pushed aside. In the native lands of Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, Christianity has been officially abolished. The whole of Christendom, indeed the whole of the world, had hitherto taken its inspiration from Europe, and it is because of European missionaries that the rest of the world was brought to Christ. - Do we fully understand what that means? Making Europe secular will bring the whole of civilisation into decline.
But the same happened in South Africa. After 350 years of Christianity, in 1996, secular humanist politicians foisted upon the heartland of Christian Africa a Constitution which is entirely secular. Again thousands of people had pleaded that God be honoured in its Preamble. They marched on Parliament, but the Government did not listen. Now our laws are brought into line with this constitution. Under the guise of "Human Rights" pornography, prostitution, abortion, homosexual marriages, and every other vice under the sun are being legalised.
How is it possible that Christians who have so great a tradition and so proud a history could allow themselves to be conquered by men of small mean minds and hearts? It is because of deliberate and persistent guilt manipulation. For years Christians have been blamed for the so-called cruelties of the Crusades, for the so-called persecution of the Jews, for the so-called evils of colonialism, for the First and Second World War. They have been blamed for the slave trade and for Apartheid and oppression. They are blamed for Capitalism and exploitation. - They have been accused of these things so often that they have come to believe them. They have come to feel uncomfortable and guilty and ashamed of these things. Ruthless powers exploit this and then gain ascendancy over them, so much so that, as in Europe, they take away the Christian God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and our eternal life.
It is not only in politics that guilt manipulation is practised. The Church was particularly exposed to it during the so-called Liberation Struggle. Political theologians accused Biblical Christians and especially missionaries of great evils. Listen to what they said about missionaries who followed our Lord Jesus Christ in faith, who gave their lives, and the lives of their families, for the salvation of others. In 1989, a booklet called "The Road to Damascus" *) was published in South Africa and distributed all over the world. It had been written by political theologians of the SA Council of Churches, and in it they said: "The God whom the missionaries preached was a God who blessed the powerful, the conquerors, the colonisers. This God demanded [from the Africans] resignation in the face of oppression and condemned rebelliousness and insubordination... The Jesus who was preached to us was barely human... He was an other-worldly Jesus who had no relevance to this life." These theologians "denounced all forms of right wing Christianity as heretical." - With right-wing they meant any and everybody who was not a revolutionary. They accused the Biblical Evangelical Reformed Church of idolatry, of worshipping money, power, privilege and profits. If any Christian spoke out against such distortion of the truth, they would call him "intolerant and divisive." And many Christians became so guilt ridden through this incessant bombardment of accusations that they gave way completely.
When we are accused of such things we should remember that no religion is as benevolent and tolerant as the Christian religion, always advancing the convert in faith, skill, and prosperity, and always helping the non-convert out of his many disasters. There is no other religion so tolerant toward people of other faiths. In Christian countries there are mosques, synagogues, and temples in virtually every town, and their worshippers enjoy total freedom. But Christians have been so intimidated with accusations of intolerance that even now, they will give up prayers in a school class which has 99% Christian and 1% Muslim children. They allow one Muslim child to take away their God, and thus they rob their own children of the Lord Jesus Christ and of eternal life.
Another accusation which is levelled against Christians is that Christianity has tried to dominate and oppress other peoples. - But has it really? Who brought the light of Christ to the nations? Who served them under conditions of extreme hardship? Who put into writing their languages? Who built them schools and universities? Who gave them doctors and hospitals? There is not a nation in the world today which does not have these benefits. Who gave them their roads and railways? Who gave them a secure source of food and freedom from eternal warfare? It was the Christian nations, the Christian missionaries, and the Christian believers and converts who raised life above depravity and above the subsistence level. Christians shared their knowledge even for the benefit of non-Christians, something which is unheard of in other religions. No religion is as caring for people of other backgrounds and other faiths, because Christians take seriously the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Red Cross, for instance, was founded as a Christian organisation, to help anybody in need no matter on which side of the world or the conflict. It is interesting that following the devastating Tsunami in Eawst Asia, we now hear of the joint relief work of the Red Cross/Red Crescent. It is wonderful to think that the Muslims are also helping. But Red Cross/Red Crescent is a strange combination, for the Muslim Crescent has never been sympathetic to the cross, nor has it been a symbol of mercy for members of other religions.
Communists have accused Christians even of getting and being rich at the expense of the poor. Certain media want to make us feel guilty about living in big houses, eating meat and fish; about drinking coffee; making profits; having extra clothes in our wardrobes; and having green lawns and clean suburbs. We are even made to feel guilty if we have more than two or three children, because the world, they say, is overpopulated, and our children will eat up and use the limited resources. We should rather have few children, so that the others can also eat. The cake is not big enough, they say, to be shared among all the people. Again, this is utter nonsense. The world is not a cake to be shared out. Each person bakes his own cake. Many bake more than one, and many produce so much as to be able to feed multitudes.
In South Africa, within 170 years, the native population increased from near zero to 40 million, a sign that they prospered and increased under Christianity. But the Christians are accused of having disadvantaged the native populations. Today we are told that the "previously advantaged" must make restitution to the "previously disadvantaged". But were they really so disadvantaged? No, they had virtually free health care, schooling, and housing, while the 'previously advantaged' paid 80% of the taxes which made these benefits possible. Today we are told that the Christians stole land from the native population and must make restitution. This claim has led to expropriation in Zimbabwe and now in South Africa, but the propagandists conceal the fact that the ground, whether for farming or mining, was always legally bought, and originally from native chiefs. In fact, in Namibia the chiefs were so eager to sell the land of their people that the colonial powers had to establish protectorates to secure the tribal heritage. The accusations against today's farmers are so intense that over 1600 of them have been murdered in South Africa. Yet every South African should rejoice that they laboured diligently over many generations to make the previously unusable land arable, that they worked it with prayer and in faith, so that it yielded food a thousandfold. Today 35,000 South African farmers are feeding over 100 million people in Southern Africa by the application of the Protestant faith and work ethic.
The greatest guilt inducing accusation of today, however, is the accusation of racism. But Christians have never been racists. Even the disciples of our Lord took the Gospel to the Gentiles, while the Jews refused to do so. They ate and lived with Gentiles when the Jews kept themselves exclusive, as they do to this present day. Many people today fear the label 'racist' more than anything else and try to do anything rather than being accused of racism. Therefore some people use the 'r' word to get benefits they do not deserve.
I live opposite a playground, and when we first moved there, the drinkers and pot smokers would sit there until they either started fighting or passed out. Then I would go to them and say: "Please take your drink and get up and go." And they would answer: "You racist, why don't you tell the other people here to go also." - "But they are not drinking." - Again they would say: "We have rights, Mbeki has given us human rights." And I would answer: "This is a playground. Here only children have rights." - They soon found that accusing me of being a racist did not work. Eventually they left, and even small children can play there in safety.
What then should we do in the face of guilt injection and guilt manipulation? How can we remain free and look the world boldly into the face? What if you feel guilty about something that happened in South Africa when you were a little child or before you were born? The first thing is to inform yourself. You ask: Was it really as bad as I am told? Or are there other sources of information which are withheld from us? - If you should come across something that would really make you feel ashamed, you need to ask yourself: What has it got to do with me? In Ezekiel 18 it is written: "The LORD spoke to me and said, 'What is this proverb people keep repeating in the land of Israel? 'The parents ate the sour grapes, But the children got the sour taste.' As surely as I am the living God, says the Sovereign LORD, you will not repeat this proverb in Israel any more. The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die... A son is not to suffer because of his father's sins, nor a father because of the sins of his son. A good person will be rewarded for doing good, and an evil person will suffer for the evil he does. If an evil person stops sinning and keeps my laws, if he does what is right and good, he will not die, he will certainly live. All his sins will be forgiven, and he will live because he did what is right. Do you think that I enjoy seeing an evil person die? asks the Sovereign LORD. No, I would rather see him repent and live... No I, the Sovereign LORD, am telling you Israelites that I will judge each of you by what you have done. Turn away from all the evil you are doing, and don't let your sin destroy you. Give up all the evil you have been doing, and get yourselves new minds and hearts. Why do you Israelites want to die? I do not want anyone to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn away from your sins and live." (Ez. 18: 1-4; 20-23; 30-32)
Although a Christian has a part in the good and evil deeds of the generations, he must also remember that God expects us to honour our mother and father. It is not our task to accuse our parents and grand-parents. We are also not to render false witness against them. That is why it is so important that, if something is troubling us, we inform ourselves from many sources. For us the big question is not: What have my ancestors done? But: What have I done? The sins of past generations are not our sins, and if we confess them, then we are hypocrites. We must see that our own relationship to God is right, and pray: Lord give me a new heart and a new Spirit.
We can fulfill our mission in life only if we are free, if we stand in the glorious liberty of the Sons and Daughters of God, when true love for the Lord Jesus Christ allows us to approach God's throne boldly. The Christian has been commanded to exercise dominion over the earth and to carry out the Great Commission. For this great task he needs inner strength and divine authority. He needs to rely entirely on the Lord Jesus Christ who has all authority in heaven and on earth, and who will be with him, and with all of us, until the end of the age.
For more articles by D. Scarborough, visit the Gospel Defence League website.
* Institute of Contextual Theology, The Road to Damascus, Kairos and Coversion, 1989.