Good Life

Clergy Column

What, if anything, differentiates those whose hatred satisfies itself by acts of violence? That question was asked in a letter April 30 by Marylouise Markle. She denigrated all religions stating they “cultivate an ideology of fear, hatred and resentment, born of ignorance and inflamed by ugly and violent propaganda.” She then cited examples, which, in her mind, indicate all religions are equally evil.

There are religions that are historically violent; the founders and followers have been guilty of all manner of oppression, persecution and bloodshed against “unbelievers,” as Markle cited. That is not true of biblical Christianity. Jesus Christ never advocated violence against anyone. The only act of aggression on his part was when he overturned the tables of those extorting believers coming to the temple to worship and drove them out with a scourge.

Biblical Christianity, real Christianity, is truly a religion of peace and is not guilty of the atrocities she listed. Jesus Christ stressed forgiveness and doing good to others, even one’s enemies. Matthew 5:44 says “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (see also Romans 12:14, 20-21; 1 Corinth. 4:12-13, 13:4-7; 1 Peter 2:23, 3:9).

When personally threatened, Jesus Christ responded with forgiveness. When arrested in the garden, he rebuked Peter for drawing a sword against those who burst in on them. He then healed the soldier whose ear Peter had severed. Throughout the New Testament, this is the response expected on the part of true disciples of Jesus Christ: “Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14) and “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22).

There have been no killings as a result of the display of Jesus Christ in urine sponsored in part by our government. No one has been threatened with physical harm or fatwa for the repeated sacrilegious portrayals of Jesus Christ in film or print. There are no “honor killings” by Christians. Any such like actions are not consistent with biblical Christianity.

Without a doubt, evil acts have been done in the name of Christianity — The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, Westboro Baptist Church — but they are not representative of or consistent with biblical Christianity.

Many claim to be Christians — anyone can make that claim. Jesus Christ said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16). Those who claim to be Christian yet act contrary to its tenants are frauds. One can say they are a Christian and act on God’s behalf. That does not make it so anymore than someone forging my name acts on my behalf. They may have used my name, but they have not been authorized to do so.

Becoming a Christian is simple. Romans 10:9-10 says “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved, for with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The authenticity of that profession is proven by one’s actions. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:8-10.

This is what differentiates Christianity, biblical Christianity from other religions.