Hostility Against Christianity
by Peter Hammond
The publishing of our new book Biblical Principles for Africa sparked a lot of interest and controversy. We have been greatly encouraged by the many enthusiastic endorsements and positive responses to Biblical Principles for Africa. Thousands of copies of the book have been purchased and we've had many phone calls and E-mails from those who appreciate and support its message.
There have also been a number of media opportunities as a result, including on Christian and secular radio stations. What has also been remarkable, has been the absolute hostility many have towards the Bible and Christianity. At our first Book Launch, at Parliament in Cape Town, one journalist responded to my Power Point presentation, God's Law or Chaos, by saying: "If the choice is between God's Law or Chaos, I'd rather have chaos!"
I suppose Christian charity, work ethic, honesty and prosperity doesn't make as much news as crime, corruption, debauchery and lawlessness.
On a secular radio programme (702 Talk Radio), I was astounded at the intense opposition to the book from listeners calling in. Naturally, none of them could have actually read the book yet, however, the vitriolic outbursts revealed a prejudice against Christianity and a hostility for the Bible which seems to be increasing in many circles.
The first caller attacked me and my new book over something that the book doesn't even deal with. This lady declared that the Bible contains the six most destructive and dangerous words ever written: "You shall not suffer a witch to live". Beside from the fact that that's actually 8 words and not 6, I was quite surprised that she would have thought that the most important issue to bring up.
I pointed out that as witches throughout history have engaged in human sacrifices, it should be evident that it is most appropriate to have the death penalty for such murderers.
THE INQUISITION REVISITED
The caller then brought up The Inquisition and claimed that Christians have burned thousands of witches and that Christian crusaders have brutally mistreated Muslims.
When I had a chance to respond to this tirade against "The Church", I had to point out that the vast majority of those burned at the stake by The Inquisition were not witches at all, but Protestant believers. To study the court records of the Inquisitors makes it very clear that the Inquisitors were by no means Christians at all. They would vindictively condemn to death Christians who believed in, translated or taught the Scriptures. Often they contemptuously tossed the victim's Bible into the fire to be burned with the martyr.
Anyone who has read Foxes Book of Martyrs, or similar historical records of the cruel persecutions endured by the Waldensians, Huguenots and other Protestant Reformers will know that The Inquisition was anti-Christian.
This was at a time of blatant corruption, when priesthoods, bishoprics and even papal seats were bought and sold and there were many ungodly men dominating all levels of leadership in the medieval Roman Church. Far from The Inquisition being Christians persecuting non-Christians, the reality is that it was the very opposite. The Inquisition was an anti-Christian persecution of Protestant believers.
THE CRUSADES VS JIHAD
As for the Crusades, the fact is that the Crusades of the Middle Ages were a reaction to the centuries of Islamic Jihad. In the first century of Islam alone, Muslim invaders conquered the whole of the previously Christian North Africa, destroying over 3200 churches - in just 100 years. In the first 3 centuries of Islam, Muslim forces killed Christians, kidnapped their children to raise them as Muslims, or compelled people at the point of the sword to convert to Islam. Up to 50% of all the Christians in the world were wiped out during those 3 centuries. The Saracens (as the Muslim invaders were called) desecrated Christian places of worship and were severely persecuting Christians. Pilgrims were being prevented from visiting those places where our Lord was born, lived and ministered, was crucified and raised from the dead. It was after nearly 4 centuries of Islamic Jihad that the Crusades were launched - as a reaction to Islamic Jihad.
The word Crusade does not appear in the Bible, nor is it commanded. However, Jihad is the 6th pillar of Islam and the second greatest command of Muhammad. It is not only commended, but commanded in the Quran.
The Crusades ended many centuries ago, however Islamic Jihad is continuing to this day. In Muslim countries such as Sudan, Muslims continue their "Holy War" against Christians. Millions of Christians have been slaughtered through the centuries by Islamic militants - such as the one and a half million Armenians murdered in Turkey in 1915. Many of them burned to death inside their church buildings.
The interviewer and other call-ins then objected that my new book, Biblical Principles for Africa, could suggest that freedom and prosperity are fruits of the Bible. In fact, some of the callers were quite outraged at the suggestion that the Bible had inspired anything good. All kinds of objections were raised and accusations thrown. One claimed that Hinduism long predates Christianity and their Bhagavad-Gita (the Hindu scriptures), "which teaches exactly the same things as the Bible", has been around longer than the Bible. Was I suggesting that India was not as advanced as Europe and America? Was I suggesting that Indian culture was in any sense inferior to Christianity? In fact this caller suggested that Hinduism was vastly superior, because of their pacifism.
To this I had to point out that in fact the Hindu scriptures are in no way comparable to the Bible. The Bible deals with historical events, the Bhagavad-Gita is nothing but myth and legend (even naming the 4 elephants who are supposed to be holding up the 4 corners of the world and describing the person, Siva, out of whose head springs the fountain head of the river Ganges)!
It is also false to suggest that Hinduism teaches the same as Christianity. (Of course, if Hinduism taught exactly the same as Christianity, the question would arise as to why these critics of Christianity are so hostile to Christianity?) I pointed out that while Hinduism teaches polytheism (many gods), Christianity teaches monotheism (one God). Hinduism teaches polygamy (many wives), while Christianity mandates monogamy (one man and one woman for life). Hinduism teaches reincarnation while Christianity makes clear that it is appointed unto man once to live and after that the judgement.
As for Hinduism's supposed pacifism, how do we explain the practice of many millenniums of child sacrifice, human sacrifice, suttee (the burning alive of widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands) - a practice which only the steadfast resistance of Christian missionaries such as William Carey brought to an end. The human sacrifices demanded by Hindu goddess, Kali, and the murdering of their Muslim and Christian neighbours, threatening Nuclear war against Pakistan and the murdering of missionaries, most recently an Australian Christian missionary in India, hardly seem consistent with Hinduism's claim to be a pacifist religion.
Another caller then took up the issue of reincarnation, claiming that Christians have originally believed in reincarnation, and it was only the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine who took the teachings on reincarnation out of the Bible!!! Of all the bizarre attacks that I have heard against the Bible, this one is quite remarkable. How Constantine's mother could have changed every manuscript (and we have over 15000 manuscripts pre-dating the time of the emperor Constantine) is something this caller never explained.
The Bible is clear: "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement." Hebrews 9:27
PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY
Then someone claimed that Africa before the missionaries came with the Bible was just as advanced and civilised as Europe. This was an interesting perspective, considering that Africa before the missionaries came with the Bible did not have the wheel, a written language, roads, railways, hospitals, schools, or even mielie meal (American corn). How mud huts with thatch roofs can be considered comparable to the marble palaces and cathedrals of Europe is quite a challenging thought.
JUSTICE AND SECURITY
Which of us would have liked to have lived in any of these countries before the Gospel came? Every culture, religion and civilisation before Christianity practised slavery and human sacrifice. There were no separation of powers, no checks and balances. Rulers such at Attila the Hun, Gingas Kahn or King Shaka had people arbitrarily put to death with no due process of law or defence allowed. Which of us would have wanted to live under these pre-Christian civilisations?
LEGACY OF LIBERTY
I pointed out that the foundation of limited government, the Magna Carta of 1215, was written by a Christian clergyman, Steven Langton. It is the first statute, the first written restriction on the power of government. And it was firmly founded on the Scriptures. King Alfred the Great began his Dooms - which were the foundation of English Common Law - with the Ten Commandments, the Exodus case laws and the Golden Rule of Christ. These documents led to the establishment of Parliament and the English Bill of Rights, which were all foundational for the American Bill of Rights and the whole concept of the separation of powers, limited government, freedom of conscience, and other essential principles of freedom - which we take for granted today.
At this point, the interviewer declared that we had run out of time, that she had learnt an enormous amount, and would have to get me back on a later programme to further explore the issues that had been raised.
Karl Marx declared that the first battle field is the re-writing of history. Evidently, the enemies of Christianity have been busy in our universities, in Hollywood, and in many newspapers and magazines, reconstructing people's perspectives of history and reality - from an anti-Christian perspective. It is imperative that we understand the Biblical principles for all areas of life and that we know our history. More and more I see the need for producing books such as The Greatest Century of Missions and Biblical Principles for Africa. By God's grace, we have also managed to completely revise and expand the Biblical Worldview Manual and Reformation Conference Manual. By God's grace I am also working on the Greatest Century of Reformation, and a History of the World school textbook.
We need to ensure that our children know how the teachings and example of Jesus Christ have inspired the greatest acts of generosity, hospitality, self-sacrifice and service, the greatest achievements in science, art, education, economics, civil and human rights and in works of compassion and mercy.
Only those ignorant of history could fail to acknowledge that Christianity has made more positive changes on earth than any other force or movement.
Peter Hammond is a missionary who has pioneered evangelistic works in Mozambique, Angola and Sudan.